Judging by the way he spoke and the tone of his voice last week, Danny Briere did not sound confident he would be ready to return to the lineup for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
“I’d like to be ready for the playoffs,” Briere said last Tuesday. “I just don’t know at this point.”
So, it was somewhat of a surprise that Briere - who suffered an upper-back contusion on April 1 - was back on the ice with his teammates on Monday in their first preparation practice for Pittsburgh.
Defenseman Nick Grossmann, who was also on the ice, was expected to be back for Game 1 the entire time.
Briere skated as normal, on a line with Brayden Schenn and Jakub Voracek, not wearing any sort of special non-contact jersey. Matt Read also subbed in on that line at one point - although Wayne Simmonds was not used there.
To get back a proven playoff performer who has put up 96 points in 97 games, that has to be a welcomed sign for coach Peter Laviolette. It’s just Monday, with another practice to go until Wednesday’s Game 1, but all signs point to Briere being ready to play.
Briere collected 9 points in his last 5 games before the injury.
More coming after practice...
PRACTICE LINES (for reference only...)
Hartnell - Giroux - Jagr
Schenn - Briere - Voracek
Wellwood - Read - Simmonds
Talbot - Couturier - Rinaldo
Coburn - Grossmann
Carle - Timonen
Bourdon - Lilja
Kubina - (Shelley)
For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers