Credit Castor with posting the line of the night to the Comments section:
Jekyll and Habs..
For the sixth time in their first 24 games, the Canadiens followed a loss with a victory.
They’ve suffered consecutive Ls only once.
What made this W surprising was the vivid contrast with that horror show in Atlanta.
A significant stat:
Against the Thrashers, the Canadiens won only 38 per cent of faceoffs.
Tonight against Buffalo, it was precisely reversed: 62 per cent of the faceoffs were won.
Lars Eller was 8-0. Jeff Halpern 3-0.
It helps, against the Sabres or anyone else, to not be chasing the puck all night.
Mathieu Darche, who is meshing nicely with Eller and Benoit Pouliot, said simplicity is the key to consistency, which has eluded the Canadiens since consecutive wins over Carolina and Philadelphia two weeks ago.
“I don’t think it’s working harder, it’s working smarter,” Darche said. “If you don’t have play, instead of trying to make a play out of nothing, you cut your losses. You put the puck deep, you change and next time you might get another chance, instead of forcing it.”
In winning his 14th game, Carey Price has exceeded last season’s win total. The goaltender said the Canadiens have been on a roller-coaster of lat – a view echoed by the red-hot captain.
“The last couple of weeks we’ve been up and down,” Brian Gionta said. “It’s nice we’re not letting things slide, but we need a more consistent effort.
Jacques Martin bristled at the view, popular among virtually everyone else who watched the Friday game, that the Canadiens had totally sucked in Atlanta.
The coach said his team had competed against the Thrashers in the first and third periods. Martin also praised Atlanta as a strong squad in a league where “every team is capable of winning.”
Well, maybe every team except Buffalo. The Canadiens have won all three meetings with the Sabres this season, and most of tonight’s game was one-sided.
You have to wonder how bad Craig Rivet is to be a healthy scratch on a team the Canadiens outshot 20-8 and outchanced 10-0 in the first period.
Buffalo has an All-Star goaltender and not much else. martin was able to roll four lines and watch his team spend long stretches in the Sabres’ end of the ice.
Fourteen of the Canadiens’ 18 skaters had at least one shot on goal. Brian Gionta had 8 and P.K. Subban 6.
The Sabres blocked six shots and there were 19 misses. That’s a lot of puck possession; and as Darche said, the Canadiens played mostly smart hockey, moving the puck efficiently and not reaching for plays that weren’t there.
Both Gionta goals were beauties, the first off a perfect pass by AK46, the second after Tomas Plekanec managed to outfight he much larger and allegedly talented Tyler Myers.
(At the final siren, the latter joined Mike Richards and Zach Bogosian on the rapidly growing list of players who are REALLY ANNOYED by the Canadiens effervescent young defenceman).
A couple more numbers:
• 15 players had hits.
• Josh Gorges blocked five shot … nonbe with his head, after losing his helmet during a Buffalo power play.
• The PK pitched another shutout and at 90.1 is second only to Pittsburgh’s kill percentage of 90.2.
• AK46’s power-play goal moved the Canadiens up to 15.6 per cent efficiency, 20th in the league.
The team has Sunday off.
Are you ready for some football?