#MTLHockey Preview

HabsSabres

Match Up

The Canadiens (16-7-1) return to Montreal to host the Sabres (7-14-2) and complete the home and home series between these teams. The game is set to start at 7:00 and airs on TVA and City.

The Sabres to the second game in this four-game season series Friday night in Buffalo thanks to a little bit of skill and a little bit of luck. The skill came on behalf of Tyler Ennis who combined speed, dexterity and some nifty hand-eye coordination to put the Sabres on the board. The luck also came courtesy of Ennis, who’s late game dump in ricocheted off the boards in the Canadiens zone leaving Carey Price stranded and Matt Moulson alone in front with a tap-in game winner.

What to Watch

The Canadiens have no scored just one goal in their last two games and three in three. At 2.42 goals per game, the Habs are 23rd in the league in scoring, a stat they’ll need to improve before they can truly compete with the league’s best. Considering Buffalo is in the bottom four in terms of goals against, the Habs should be able to take advantage of home ice advantage to rally their lethargic offense.

The Sabres will hope that Ennis, their leading scorer with seven goals and 15 points, has another goal like this in him for Saturday night:

What’s at Stake

Passing up points once against the worst team in the league doesn’t bode well, but the Habs have an immediate opportunity for redemption on home ice. At 33 points the Canadiens still hold the Eastern conference lead, but Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and the Islanders are each right behind the Canadiens with 32, and Detroit is in the mix as well with 31 points this year.

Who’s Out

Michael Bournival (shoulder) is nearing a return but still might not be ready to play on Saturday. Aside from that the team is healthy, but Alexei Emelin will have a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety prior to Saturday’s game and may receive a suspension for his hit on former teammate Brian Gionta.

The Sabres were without Josh Gorges (knee) and Cody McCormick (concussion) on Friday, although Gorges may make his return at the Bell Centre. Drew Stafford (lower body), missed part of Friday’s game and may miss Saturday’s action as well.

What Else

The Canadiens power play found success in Buffalo using four forwards and a 1-3-1 set up. After an ugly stretch of extra man opportunities, the Habs have found a bit of consistency with the man advantage, especially since the arrival of veteran power play specialist Sergei Gonchar. In the eight games since Gonchar joined the team the Habs are 6-for-24 on the power play, after going 3-for-42 up to that point.

The Question Mark

What are your thoughts on the “new look” power play the Habs experimented with on Friday, and the power play in general since Gonchar joined the team?

Tonight’s Show

Join host Steven Hindle along with Kosta Papoulias and Rob Elbaz for the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show as we go live at 6:00 Saturday night to preview the Canadiens and the Sabres.