Habs drop ‘slow starter’ Briere to fourth line

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The Montreal Canadiens will have a new look up front on Tuesday against Winnipeg as Daniel Briere will skate on the fourth line alongside Travis Moen and Michael Bournival.

According to Briere, he knows what message is being sent.

“Michel [Therrien, head coach] has said it from the start that this is the way it’s going to go,” Briere told the Montreal Gazette. “There are some guys who have stepped up early and they deserve the ice time. In my case, I’ve always been something of a slow starter.

“Right now, I’m getting caught on the outside and it’s up to me to get back in.”

Briere, 36, has just one assist through five games while averaging nearly 16 minutes per night.

What’s curious is that despite his claims, Briere hasn’t historically been a slow starter. Consider this tweet from NHL.com’s Arpon Basu as evidence:

The way Therrien sees it, the decision to demote isn’t so much about Briere as it is the players around him. Montreal has a number of forwards playing well at the moment — Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher are all at least point-per-game guys thus far — and the reward of playing well is added ice time.

Vice versa for those not playing well.

“We have a lot of depth with our forwards, especially with our wingers,” Therrien explained. “We have to take some decisions and we made a decision to put Daniel on the fourth line.”

In related news, the Habs will get captain Brian Gionta back tonight vs. the Jets after he missed Saturday’s 4-1 win in Vancouver dealing with a personal matter.