Aberration or harbinger?
We’ll find out tonight whether the no-show in Buffalo was a mere bump in the Canadiens’ road toward the playoffs or a sign of things to come in a season that’s about to veer south.
4-1 – and it wasn’t that close.
The stat sheet says the Canadiens had 37 shots on Ryan Miller, but
that must have been the quietest 36-save night of the Buffalo
goaltender’s career. Defencemen accounted for 13 of the shots (five by Mike Komisarek). Saku Koivu and Tomas Plekanec had
one shot each.
Everything the Canadiens directed at Miller was
either at a distance or from an impossible angle. There were few
second-shot opportunities – and no white jerseys close enough to cash
A few observations:
• The Canadiens needed hot goaltending to keep them in the game against an early Buffalo onslaught. They didn’t get it. Cristobal Huet was beaten on three of the 12 shots he faced in the first period.
So if Carey Price plays well against the Bruins tonight, who starts Monday when the sizzling Senators are at the Bell Centre?
• Guy Carbonneau said his team looked tired on the bench, on the ice and during practices leading up to last night. Canadiens didn’t get their first shot on goal until the game was more than 11 minutes old. The Sabres, who had played the night before in Ottawa, had all the early jump.
I don’t know if there’s room under the salary cap for a good barista, but the Canadiens should look into hiring one for pre-game prep.
• The number-one line was on for two of the first three Buffalo goals. The Kostopoulos experiment did not work, and Michael Ryder was reunited with Saku Koivu and Christopher Higgins in the third period – to no great effect. Higgins went 0-for-the road trip.
• Canadiens are being killed on faceoffs. They won 24, lost 38 in Toronto and were 19-30 last night. It’s not the most crucial statistic, but if a team has to chase possession of the puck all night it becomes difficult to get any rhythm or flow going. And Canadiens’ ineptitude on the draw is odd, considering Carbo is their head coach and Doug Jarvis is an assistant.
Yanic Perreault: Where are you?
• Canadiens desperately need a finisher. The Michael Ryder we know and love showed up for a second-period goal last night, but if their 30-goal man lapses back into futility the team is in trouble. Canadiens have to be hoping that Matt D’Agostini and/or Kostitsyn the Younger are ready for The Show real soon. If not … gentlemen, start your trade rumours.
• Mark Streit was brutal, but it was a long night for the whole Canadiens’ defence corps. With the notable exception of Mike Komisarek, the D spent a lot of time admiring the Sabres as they buzzed around Huet.
Buffalo – faced with the prospect of a season going into the dumper – needed a W and got one.
The Canadiens don’t absolutely need a W against the Bruins at the Bell Centre tonight. But the standings are bunching up, and getting two points tonight would temporarily ease anxieties about where the team might be headed after its hot start.
Because we’ve seen this movie before, right?
And we don’t like how it ends.