Let’s be clear about something on this crisp, sunny Saturday morning in Montreal: the penalty call was brutal, but your Montreal Canadiens did not deserve to win the game.
For the second straight Friday in Buffalo, the home team outhustled and – gasp! – outskated the visitors, with the predictable result that the Sabres bagged two points to continue their climb back into playoff contention.
Once again, the Canadiens gave up the first goal … and it would have been more were it not for some good Carey Price stops in the first period.
They wasted a four-minute power-play.
Their PK gave up two goals in three Buffalo opportunities.
With the exception of some flurries of activity by Tomas Plekanec’s line in the third period, the Canadiens generated no sustained offence.
The NHL does not offer stats on intercepted passes or first-on-the-puck. If it did, the Sabres were in triple figures.
The Ol’ EEEEE-mailer, who has never played ice hockey in his long life, offers this one word of advice for tonight’s rematch at the Bell Centre: Hit.
The Sabres are one of the few teams in the NHL that are less physically imposing than the Canadiens. It’s imperative that the guys in red sweaters lay a bit of smack-down on the visitors tonight to take them off their skating, slick-passing game.
In particular, the Canadiens have to target Brian Campbell. They can’t let the Sabres’ superb defenceman dance out of his zone and cruise up the ice to QB the offence. Make Campbell and the other Buffalo defencemen work to clear their zone. Puck cough-ups will ensue, as will scoring opportunities.
Intensity and hard-work just might salvage a split of this home-and-home. An effort like last night’s will hand the Sabres a sweep.
A few observations:
• Price has been good, but we’ve yet to see him stand on his head and steal one.
• Mark Streit is nervous and tentative with the puck. Let’s hope it’s a passing phase.
• Seeing Andrei Markov up and moving was as good as I’ve felt with my clothes on in a long time.
• Alex Kovalev was in a bit of a fog last night. Let’s hope it was a temporary relapse.
• Christopher Higgins is carrying BOTH of his linemates.
• Do you think teams have figured out how to defence the Canadiens’ PP?
• Memo to Guy Carbonneau: No more "fun" practices on off-days.