Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST, Bell Centre, Montreal, QC
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Canadiens Blog: Habs Eyes on the Prize
Know Your Opponent
Last Game: 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Flyers (SO)
Division Ranking: 6th in the Atlantic Division
PP: 17.65% (27th)
PK: 81.36% (8th)
What to Watch
1. Do Buffalo’s Losing Ways End in Montreal?
The Buffalo Sabres are on an eight-game losing streak and haven’t won since Nov. 2. Both the Sabres and Habs sit near the bottom of the Atlantic Division. The Canadiens lost two of their last three matchups, but Montreal’s longest winless stretch was three games at the beginning of the month.
Buffalo can beat Le Grand Club, but the Sabres have to play 60 consistent minutes and perform the way they did in October. Which Sabres team will take the ice, one that tries to win or one that lets opponent dictate the game? The final score will reflect the roster that shows up.
2. Take Advantage of Montreal’s Poor PP Record
The Sabres are not great with the man advantage, frequently giving up the puck, letting opponents get shorthanded chances and not generating many of their own scoring opportunities. As bad as the Blue and Gold are, the Habs are even worse.
The Canadiens are much better at penalty killing (8th), than they are at power play scoring (27th). If the Habs do manage to get any man advantages, the Sabres could try to score shorthanded, since Montreal is way below Buffalo in PP production.
Tage Thompson, Casey Mittelstadt and Rasmus Asplund each scored a shorthander this season. If the opportunity presents itself, maybe one of them can do it again.
3. Samuelsson, Girgensons Back
Sabres defenseman Mattias Sameulsson is back in the lineup, giving Buffalo’s depleted D a much-needed boost. No. 23 had been out for the past month, after he injured his knee in a game against the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 22. The team missed his presence and his return couldn’t come at a better time for a struggling Sabres franchise.
Buffalo also gets forward Zemgus Girgensons on the ice again. The 28-year old first became injured in a game against the Ottawa Senators on Nov. 16. Expected to be missing for a while, Girgensons had five points through 17 games this season. Having him back bolsters the Sabres’ offense, which has faltered quite a bit recently.
4. Sabres the Underdogs
The Montreal Canadiens are slight -1.5 betting favorites, according to James Boutros of Statsalt.com. While Boutros advises bettors to wager on Montreal, because their offense has been clicking lately, he also feels the Sabres have a good offense, ranking 9th in goals per game and 13th in shots per game.
The Over is 6.5 and based on both teams’ tendencies to score goals, it should hit. Also, since the Sabres are underdogs, anyone who believes their losing streak might end in this game will get a higher moneyline payout if it does.
Jeff Skinner - Tage Thompson - Alex Tuch
JJ Peterka - Dylan Cozens - Jack Quinn
Victor Oloffson - Casey Mittelstadt - Vinnie Hinostroza
Rasmus Asplund - Zemgus Girgensons - Tyson Jost
Mattias Samuelsson - Rasmus Dahlin
Owen Power - Henri Jokiharju
Jacob Bryson - Ilya Lyubushkin
Goaltenders: Craig Anderson (likely), Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen
Injuries: Kyle Okposo, Eric Comrie
Scratches: Riley Sheahan, Casey Fitzgerald, Peyton Krebs
Cole Caulfield - Nick Suzuki - Kirby Dach
Juraj Slafkovsky - Christian Dvorak - Brendan Gallagher
Evgenii Dadonov - Sean Monahan - Josh Anderson
Michael Pezzetta - Jake Evans - Joel Armia
Mike Matheson - Joel Edmundson
Kaiden Guhle - David Savard
Arber Xhekaj - Johnathan Kovacevic
Goaltenders: Jake Allen (likely), Sam Montembeault
Injuries: Paul Byron, Mike Hoffman, Jonathan Drouin, Carey Price