On Thursday, the Buffalo Sabres played a snoozer of a game against the New York Rangers, only waking up in the final ten minutes once they realized, "Oh, we may need to actually score here to win." They won't be able to afford the same 50 minute nap tonight as they take on the red-hot Montreal Canadiens.
The Canadiens have ridden an 8-1-1 ride over their last 10 games to overtake the Bruins for first place in the Flortheast Division. They've won four in a row, have the second best goal differential in the East, and have two incredibly hot players in Max Pacioretty and Carey Price.
Pacioretty is smoking hot at home, with nine goals in his last five games at the Bell Center, while Carey Price is currently second in the NHL in save percentage, with a whopping .938 number.
If there's good news for the Sabres, it's that despite their record, the Canadiens aren't a dominant possession team - they rank 18th in the NHL in Fenwick right now. Of course, the Sabres are still dead last, but the Habs have been relying on timely scoring and brilliant play from Carey Price to drive their winning streak, so if the Sabres can find the answer to either one of those problems tonight, they might just have a chance.
The Sabres lineup is expected to remain the same, with Brayden McNabb still scratched and Mikhail Grigorenko sent off to Russia today in order to begin training with their World Juniors team, but Jhonas Enroth will start in net for the Sabres.
(6-21-2) at (18-9-3)
Puck Drop - 7:00pm EST - Bell Center - Montreal, QC
TV - MSG, CBC, RDS | Radio - WGR 550-AM
SBNation Canadiens Blog - Eyes on the Prize
1. The Sabres have scored 8 goals in their last 7 games. Can they find their offensive spark tonight against one of the best goaltenders in the NHL?
2. Will Enroth continue his strong play at the Bell Center?
The Sabres backup goalie is undefeated in Montreal, going 3-0-0 with a .922 save percentage in his five Bell Center appearances. Because of their pathetic offense, Buffalo always needs strong play in net in order to have a chance, so Enroth needs to continue to bring his A game.
3. The Ott-Leino-D'Agostini line was dominant in Corsi versus NYR. Can they play the same strong game against the Habs?
The second line for Buffalo (and whichever defensemen were on the ice) generated 22 shots toward the net and only allowed 8 against on Thursday. The Sabres need a heck of a lot more of that kind of play, especially from Ville Leino, for whom possession is supposed to be a strength.
Projected BUF Lines
Goal: Jhonas Enroth
Scratches/Injuries: McNabb, Scott, Grigorenko, Sulzer
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