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Daniel Briere Looking to Rebound

Friday, 05.11.2007 / 11:56 AM / News
By Brian Wheeler  - Sabres.com
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Daniel Briere Looking to Rebound
Daniel Briere
Daniel Briere isn't satisfied with his performance in Buffalo's 5-2 loss in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals.

That's the obvious statement.

Seeing just over 15 minutes of ice time, Briere was held without a shot on net and finished with a minus-two rating.

"Last night was one of those games where I barely touched the puck, where usually I'm in control of the puck and can make things happen" said Briere. "Last night, the puck just wasn't coming around and except for maybe two, three shifts, I just wasn't there. I couldn't find the puck, and part of the problem is that I've got to get open. I've got to find ways and lanes to find that puck.

"I'm not happy with my game. Like I said, I've got to move on and get on to tomorrow night. I can't waste energy. I wasted enough energy last night going through the game over and over again. Today is a new day. I got to move on and concentrate on tomorrow and try to be better."

For Briere to return to the earlier form that earned him a team-high 11 points (2+9) during Buffalo's first two rounds of the playoffs, the five-foot-ten, 179-pound center must be involved in the game.

In Game One, his limited ice time could be attributed to three factors, which head coach Lindy Ruff is trying to navigate.

First, Briere is not a member of either penalty kill unit, so when the Sabres are down a man, like they were for nearly nine minutes on Thursday, Buffalo's co-captain is on the bench. Odds are this isn't going to change.

Matching lines decreases time for three of the four lines.

Secondly, Buffalo's best chance to defend against Ottawa's top line of Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson is to match that combination against Chris Drury and Dainius Zubrus. The Sens put their big guns on the ice for around 20 minutes per game, which cuts everyone else's piece of the pie on Buffalo's roster.

Lastly, Briere was skating with Tim Connolly.

Ever mindful of his conditioning after only four months of preparation, Connolly's tendency is to take shorter shifts so that he doesn't get caught on the ice for long periods of time.

The effect. Briere heads to the bench at the same time as his center.

Of those three factors, the only one Ruff can really address is the latter.

In an effort to reignite his best offensive player, Ruff has dug a past recipe for success from his filing cabinet. The line of Briere between Jason Pominville and Jochen Hecht will be reunited for Game Two this Saturday in HSBC Arena (Versus, 8 p.m.).

"That isn't favorable for us," said Ruff regarding Briere's limited playing time. "The thinking behind putting that line back together is to get Danny's ice time up. [Pomminville] has been a good even strength goal scorer all year and we'd like to get his ice time up [as well].

"[The line of Briere, Connolly and Kotalik] worked for a couple of games against the Rangers, but we're going to put it back in the trunk, close the lid, and see where where we go for now."

LINE COMBINATIONS FROM TODAY
Jason Pominville -- Daniel Briere -- Jochen Hecht
Paul Gaustad -- Chris Drury -- Ales Kotalik
Thomas Vanek -- Derek Roy -- Maxim Afinogenov
Drew Stafford -- Andrew Peters -- Adam Mair -- Daniel Paille

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