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Canadiens offer possible glimpse at line combinations

by Arpon Basu /

BROSSARD, Quebec -- It was only the first scrimmage of training camp, but Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien may have given a little sneak preview Thursday as to the line combinations he'll use this season.

Canadiens new acquisition Daniel Briere was at right wing on a line with David Desharnais at center and Max Pacioretty on the left, two players who have spent basically the entirety of their professional careers together. With Briere and Desharnais both standing considerably less than 6 feet, it would be a combination lacking size but oozing with skill.

Another combination had Tomas Plekanec and Rene Bourque together at center and left wing, just as they were last season. But the right side was filled by prospect Christian Thomas in the absence of captain Brian Gionta, who is still recovering from a torn biceps muscle. Thomas was acquired in a trade with the New York Rangers for Danny Kristo during the offseason.

Another line featured three of the younger players on the team, with Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher playing the wings with Lars Eller. Eller, 24, is the elder statesman on that line.

The fourth line had bangers Travis Moen, Ryan White and Brandon Prust playing together, but that only lasted a couple of shifts before White was cut above the right eye with a high stick from defenseman Greg Pateryn and had to leave the scrimmage.

On defense, P.K. Subban was paired with his partner from last season Josh Gorges, Andrei Markov was with Raphael Diaz, while Francis Bouillon played with free agent signing Douglas Murray. Rookie hopeful Jarred Tinordi was paired with depth defenseman Davis Drewiske, and two other rookies looking to crack the squad were also paired together as Nathan Beaulieu played with Pateryn.

These combinations are obviously tentative, but they do make sense based on some of the established chemistry from last season.

In addition to Gionta, enforcer George Parros also missed the scrimmage as he recovers from offseason rotator cuff surgery, though he skated with a non-contact jersey during the morning practice.

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