Daniel Briere the key for Montreal

Scoring ability in a depth role makes him invaluable against Boston

Updated: May 1, 2014, 4:39 PM ET
By Matthew Coller | Hockey Prospectus

BriereAndre Ringuette/Getty ImagesDaniel Briere ranks tied for sixth among active NHL players in career playoff points with 111.

The concept of "clutch" has been analyzed thousands of times in all sorts of different ways. Most statistical studies find it to be difficult to prove at best, and at worst, a concept that's entirely nebulous. On the other hand, stories of players coming through in big moments are part of the fabric of sports history.

Even if "clutch" does not show up in the numbers, it is hard to deny there are players who seem to thrive under the brightest lights.

So when Montreal Canadiens forward Daniel Briere set up Dale Weise's game-winning goal in Game 1 of the Habs' first-round series with the Tampa Bay Lightning, not too many hockey fans or analysts were surprised. Nor were they shocked when Briere scored a goal in the series-clinching game.

Briere's name might not be the first that comes to mind when you think about the best playoff performers, but his history in the postseason compares with some of the NHL's best, as seen in the following chart.

He ranks tied for sixth among active NHL players in career playoff points, and has 13 postseason game-winning goals. He has played a major role on three teams that reached the Eastern Conference finals and one that reached the Stanley Cup finals.

Although we have just a small sample of work from Briere this season, he may well be the key to the Canadiens' chances at beating the Boston Bruins.