Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Snapshot Preview: Habs vs Sabres - January 31st 2012

Montreal Canadiens (19-21-9) vs Buffalo Sabres (20-24-5)
Puck drop is at 7:30pm EST (RDS, TSN-MTL, TSN 990AM)

I have game notes on the Rangers game. I was at the mashing of Detroit last week....and yet no articles. I guess my rhythm of writing got messed up by my illness and vacation. I took the all-star break away from the blog, and look to get back on track as of tonight's meeting with the Buffalo Sabres.

I am also working on a new feature to run on off-days between games talking to people around the city. How the Habs affect their lives. I hope it will be a good recurring feature. Fans and media are invited to participate (get in touch with me if you'd like to be involved) and perhaps one day maybe players and former players too. The first of these features should be up soon - look for it!

The Buffalo Sabres head into Montreal looking for their 5th straight win at the Bell Centre. Montreal is 4-2-1 in it's last 6 at home included a 7-2 thrashing of the Detroit Red Wings to enter All-Star break.

Carey Price, fresh off a fun turn at the All-Star game faces off with Buffalo for the 21st time in his career - second time this season. Price has a lifetime record of 8-6-6 with a 1.96 GAA and a .936 save percentage against these Sabres.

His counterpart Ryan Miller has a 20-8 lifetime record vs Montreal. His numbers while not as sterling as those of Price are excellent. He has a career GAA of 2.29 and a .924 save percentage vs the Canadiens so this will be a tall order for the Habs.

Derek Roy has been a thorn in the Habs' side for many years, amassing 34 points in 34 career games vs the Blue-Blanc-Rouge, including a goal and an assist the last time these teams squared off.

Scott Gomez has been strong for the Habs since his recent return from injury. The points aren't as high as some would like, but he has been creating chances for his linemates. Tonight he will be playing wing on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Rene Bourque as head coach Randy Cunneyworth looks to get all 3 going. Gomez has 6 pts in 11 games at the Bell Centre this season and has put up 28 points in 48 career meetings with Buffalo, so I'd look for him to be a factor tonight. It seems that if Scott Gomez is going well, so too are the Canadiens. If he is as involved as he looked to be before t he break, expect big things from him.

Both teams still feel like the have a chance at the playoffs. Both teams were expected to be higher in the standings than they are. The Sabres however seem to be tailing off, while the Habs look interested. Both teams play similar styles and tonight should be a lightning fast up-tempo game. Buffalo/Montreal matchups have been fantastic affairs since the lockout and expect nothing less tonight. This is a statement game for both teams if they want to get into the thick of the playoff race.

Ryan White has been skating with the team and looks to be close to a return. Andrei Markov skated today for 15 minutes on his own and there is no timetable for him as yet. Brian Gionta is "out indefinitely". I'd expect that neither #79 nor #21 are in the lineup before training camp.

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