When the Montreal Canadiens signed Daniel Briere to a two year contract in the summer, general manager Marc Bergevin proclaimed there are players that get you to the playoffs, and players that get you through the playoffs.
It was quite clear with Briere’s history that Bergevin was alluding to the veteran forward as someone who could help this team once the postseason began. Well, the Habs have made it to the playoffs without much help from Briere, can he flip the switch and help them through the postseason now?
Briere has a long history of coming through in the postseason, as his 109 career points in 108 NHL playoff games suggest. Briere’s 109 playoff points ranks fifth among all active NHLers, behind Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias, Henrik Zetterberg and Marian Hossa.
So Briere has had all kinds of success in the playoffs in his past, but he never had a regular season as poor as this season’s in his career. Briere had just 25 points in 69 games in his first season with the Canadiens, but the question is, can he perform admirably in the postseason for Montreal?
With Alex Galchenyuk injured, Briere could see himself on a line alongside Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher when the postseason begins tomorrow night. He had most of success when playing with Plekanec and Brian Gionta in the regular season, so it is not inconceivable that he plays his best hockey of the year this week.
He has also been able to step his game up a notch in the playoffs to a new level compared to his regular season. In 2011-12, Briere had just 49 points in 70 games, a very poor season by the standard he had set before that year. However, in 11 playoff games that spring, he finished second on the Flyers with 13 points.
In 2009-10 Briere had 53 points in 75 games, the first time he was not close to a point per game in the regular season since 2003-04. That postseason would be the best of his career, as he carried the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals with 30 points in 23 games. Briere was so good in the playoff run, he earned Ville Leino a 27 million dollar contract from the Buffalo Sabres.
In two deep playoff runs with the Buffalo Sabres coming out of the 2005 lockout, Briere combined for 34 points in 34 games. But Briere was in his twenties with the Sabres, and is 36 years old now with the Canadiens.
Sure, he has been fantastic in the playoffs in the past, but he is older, slower and not as skilled as he once was. Can Briere suddenly become a point per game player because it is the postseason? No. Can he be better than he has been in the regular season? Sure.
Daniel Briere was not brought to Montreal to lead them to the playoffs, but he also was not brought here to average a point every third game either.
There is something to be said for experience and veteran savvy when it comes to the NHL postseason. That can only bode well for Briere, so expect him to pick him production up slightly, but don’t expect the guy who score 30 points in the playoffs four years ago.