After four days without hockey, the Canadiens (16-6-1) are finally back in action Friday night when they meet the Sabres (6-14-2) in Buffalo. The game starts at 7:00 and airs on RDS and Sportsnet East.
This is the second of four meeting between the Habs and Sabres this season and the final match in Buffalo for the year. The Canadiens beat the Sabres in unconvincing fashion the first time these teams met, taking a 2-1 shootout victory on a regulation and shootout goal by P.A. Parenteau.
What to Watch
At just past the quarter mark of the season, the Canadiens have seven scorers with five goals or more, led by Max Pacioretty who is ninth in the league with 10 goals already this year. At 18 points, Pacioretty leads the Habs in that department as well.
The Sabres are at the bottom in of the league in a handful of offensive categories, including goals per game (1.59), power play efficiency (6.2%) and shots per game (23.1), so it should be no surprise that they’re also last place in terms of points and points percentage. With 13 points on the season, Tyler Ennis, the team’s leading scorer, is 100th in the league in points.
What’s at Stake
The Canadiens set out on a four game road trip in the coming week, visiting Colorado, Minnesota, Chicago and Dallas. Friday and Saturday’s home and home versus the basement dwelling Sabres is an opportunity to secure points that the Habs won’t want to pass up.
Over the past week, Nathan Beaulieu and Drayson Bowman have been sent to the AHL Bulldogs in favor of preseason acquisition Eric Tangradi. With Michel Therrien favoring a seven defensemen set up since acquiring first Sergei Gonchar and then Bryan Allen, there’s no guarantee Tangradi plays. Also, Michael Bournival (shoulder) is close to making his own return.
Former Hab Josh Gorges (knee) has missed the Sabres last 4 games but could be ready to play on Friday. Tyler Myers (undisclosed) is questionable for Friday’s game while Cody McCormick (concussion) is out.
The Canadiens have won their last six games against the Sabres, going back to April 2013. The shootout loss earlier in the season was the first time the Sabres came away with any points versus the Habs since their 2-1 win on March 23, 2013.
The Question Mark
Since taking over as Habs GM in May 2012, what is your favorite move that Marc Bergevin has made to improve the team?