Regardless of where the Canadiens find themselves in the standings on Monday morning, I think Gauthier will continue to deal.
The Canadiens are 2-1-1 since Travis Moen was injured. With Ryan White finally back in the lineup, Moen – health permitting – is expendable and attractive to teams seeking an experienced, physical player for the war of attrition that is the NHL playoffs.
In exchange for Hal Gill – who had been playing single-digit even-strength minutes – Gauthier got a second-round draft choice, a prospect with a magic Montreal name and a warm body for the Bulldogs.
If there’s that kind of offer out there for Moen, the Canadiens GM has to pull the trigger.
And even though he joined White and Scott Gomez – yes, SCOTT GOMEZ!!! – on the Canadiens’ best line in Buffalo, Gauthier should jump at any good offer for Andrei Kostitsyn.
Ditto Chris Campoli.
Look, I’m not a member of the Tank Corps.
The Canadiens have been playing better for Randy Cunneyworth than they did for Jacques Martin. They are more fun to watch, and certainly displaying more desperation and fight over the last couple weeks.
But balancing the odds of making the postseason against stockpiling prospects and all-important draft choice inventory that will help Trevor Timmins and his staff find more gems …
For me, it’s a no-brainer … especially when you consider the list of UFAs who walked for nothing, notably Sheldon Souray, Mark Streit, Alex Tanguay (who cost the Canadiens a first-round draft choice), Michael Ryder.
Buffalo is looking at the same situation with impending UFAs Brad Boyes and Paul Gaustad. The loss left the Sabres dead last in the East, and you have to think Darcy Regier is polishing off the For Sale sign.
Gaustad would help someone. The hulking centre and his linemates, Patrick Kaleta and Nathan Gerbe, decisively outplayed the Canadiens’ number-one line.
David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty – both of whom beat Ryan Miller in the shootout – had zero shots on goal during regulation time. Erik Cole, wearing an “A” for the first time, had only one shot and was on the ice for two Buffalo goals.
The Tomas Plekanec line was no better. Pleks, Rene Bourque and Mathieu Darche (the latter two double-shifting a bit with Lars Eller and Louis Leblanc) combined for a grand total of ZERO shots.
P.K. Subban had five shots, AK46 and LL three each. A rookie, an enigma and a defenceman produced 11 of the Canadiens’ 19 shots.
Want more weirdness?
The goal-scorers – Gomez, Chris Campoli and Tomas Kaberle – doubled their season totals in one night.
And the much-maligned Canadiens power-play maintained possession in the Buffalo end from the faceoff until Thomas Vanek stepped back out on the ice – three seconds before Tomas Kaberle scored an Andrei Markov goal.
“Any way you can win it,” Randy Cunneyworth said after a game that won’t be part of the classic DVD collection. “I think we deserved it. I’m happy for the boys.”
Having outhit the Bruins 27-16 Wednesday night, the Canadiens thumped their way to an 18-9 margin in Buffalo. Alexei Emelin had four hits and partnered with Raphael Diaz as the second unit on a penalty kill that was perfect – including a tense 59 seconds to end OT – on its first night without Gill.
Josh Gorges added four blocked shots to his league-leading total, but the stud on the blueline – again – was P.K., who played a ridiculous 28:48 and was not on for any of the three goals-against. And how about his effort in singlehandedly foiling a Buffalo 3-on-1?
The Sabres had 30 shots on Carey Price, who made a highlight reel save on Robyn Regehr in regulation and then stoned Boyes and Jason Pominville in a brilliant, confidence-boosting shootout performance.
The guy at the other end of the ice, Ryan Miller, had beaten the Canadiens 21 times in his career.
We’ll be seeing the only active goaltender with a higher total – it’s 42 and counting – at the Bell Centre Sunday evening.
Martin F. just might help determine whether Pierre Gauthier is on the phone Monday morning.
• If standings were determined by goal differential, the Canadiens would be in seventh place.
• Tweet by Matthias Brunet of La Presse: Si vous ne l’avez pas remarqué, Subban a été phénoménal ce soir. Presque 29 minutes en plus. Je ne l’échangerais même pas pour Nash…