The Canadiens (13-9-2) are in Buffalo Wednesday night to take on the league worst Sabres (5-19-1). The game is set to start at 7:00 and airs on RDS and TSN-Habs.
This is the first of four meeting between the Habs and Sabres this season. Last year, the Habs went 2-1-2 against their division rivals, bookending their season series with a pair of massive wins, 6-1 at the beginning of the season, and 5-1 at the end.
What to Watch:
Max Pacioretty was the NHL’s Second Star of the Week last week, he scored 5 goals in 3 games including the game winning goals against Minnesota and Pittsburgh. Andrei Markov has an assist in each of his last 3 games, bringing him up to 12 on the season and 14 points.
With 18 points on the year Matt Moulson is the leading scorer on the Sabres. On top of that, Moulson’s 9 points in 12 games since coming to Buffalo from Long Island in exchange for Thomas Vanek ties him for second in points scored in a Sabres uniform this season. Only Cody Hodgson has scored more for the Sabres, 8 goals and 9 assists.
What’s at Stake:
Buffalo is the worst team in the league and a Canadiens loss would be incredibly deflating after back to back victories against two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. The fifth placed Habs are also trying to climb up the Atlantic division standings, they now sit just one point back of the Red Wings and Maple Leafs.
Rene Bourque will miss his third straight game on Wednesday, but according to Michel Therrien he has recovered from the lower body injury that kept him out of the lineup against Washington and Pittsburgh. Davis Drewiske (shoulder) is out long term.
The Sabres are without Cody McCormick (upper body).
Behind the bench and in the front office, Buffalo is a much different team than they were the last played the Habs on April 11, 2012. At that time, Ron Roulston was interim head coach and Darcy Regier was GM. Roulston would lose the interim tag in the summer, but lost his job two weeks ago along with Regier. Former Sabres coach Ted Nolan is back at the helm and former Buffalo great Pat LaFontaine has been named president of hockey operations, the team has yet to name a GM.
Ted Nolan coached the Sabres for two seasons, from 1995 to 1997 and earned a Jack Adams trophy in the process. He spent another two seasons coaching the Islanders from 2006 to 2008, but has spent most of the past 15 years outside the NHL.
The Question Mark:
Let us know, what do you think has been the biggest surprise for the Habs this season?
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Be sure to tune into the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show an hour before the puck drop and the Post Game Show 5 minutes after the final siren. Join the live conversation by using the #MTLHockey hashtag on Twitter.