Daniel Briere’s struggles in Montreal have hit a new low.
The veteran forward will be made a healthy scratch for Thursday’s game in St. Louis, replaced in the lineup by Ryan White. This will be the first time Briere’s been made a healthy scratch since signing a two-year, $8 million deal with the Canadiens last summer.
As we wrote earlier this morning, the Habs were hoping to see more from Briere after he played just 4:27 in a 3-1 over Phoenix on Tuesday. Head coach Michel Therrien said the decision to park Briere was ‘to make sure that we’ve got a good chance to win,” noting that Briere ‘wants to get involved more.”
Briere has just five goals and 10 points through 26 games this year and is averaging 12:38 per game — his lowest average since the 2000-01 campaign in Phoenix, when he was 23 years old.
Damon Severson was a healthy scratch on Saturday.
It’s the last game he wants to miss this season.
“I had a good chat with a few people and just pretty much said, ‘I want to be in the next 80 games,’” Severson said, per The Record. “I sat out my game and that’s all I want to be out for for the year.”
Severson is one of the Devils’ most important young players. But this is also the 21-year-old defenseman’s sophomore season, and that’s when slumps can occur.
Hence, the early message he was sent by the coaching staff.
Severson is expected to be back in the lineup tonight when New Jersey hosts Nashville.
“He doesn’t have to be perfect,” coach John Hynes told reporters. “We’d just like to see him have a high compete level. We know he’s ready to go. We had a couple of good meetings with him. He’s in a good spot mentally. I know he’s ready to roll.”
Jake Virtanen, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, will make his NHL debut tonight when his Canucks meet the Kings in Los Angeles.
The 19-year-old winger was a healthy scratch for Vancouver’s first three games of the regular season. He had two goals and two assists in six preseason games.
“I can’t wait,” he told reporters. “My energy is high. I want to get a couple of hits on my first shift.”
Big and physical with goal-scoring ability, the consensus is that Virtanen will remain in the NHL and not be returned to junior after he’s played nine games. That consensus could always change based on his play, of course.
The Canucks — who won last night in Anaheim — did not have a full skate this morning, so it’s unclear who will come out of the lineup. The best guess is rookie Jared McCann, who’s been playing third-line center.
If McCann does come out, the Canucks could move Brandon Sutter to third-line center and Virtanen could take Sutter’s spot on the first line with the Sedin twins. Or, there could be more extensive line juggling.