Game 23: Sabres blank, sweep Canadiens

Sabres’ Thomas Vanek crashes the crease of Canadiens’ Cristobal Huet during tonight’s first period.
John Mahoney, Gazette

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Consider this the weekend the Canadiens were buffaloed. Literally.

Twenty-four hours after being handled 4-2 by the Sabres at HSBC Arena, the Canadiens were outskated, outshot and outscored by the same Northeast Division rival tonight, falling 3-0 to a disgruntled and not afraid to show it sellout crowd at the Bell Centre.

The Canadiens outhit the Sabres 36-23, if you’re looking for small victories. But Montreal was outshot 35-24, so there.

It was the Sabres’ fourth victory in a row and a dramatic reversal of fortune for the visitors; the Canadiens had won the last four Bell Centre games between the two teams, outscoring Buffalo 14-8.

Buffalo’s Jaroslav Spacek and Thomas Vanek beat Canadiens goalie Cristobal Huet in the first period. Jochen Hecht backhanded the puck almost the length of the ice into an empty Montreal goal in the final minute to complete the scoring. Well-travelled former Habs netminder Jocelyn Thibault earned a very satisfying shutout.

The Canadiens return to action Tuesday night in Toronto, head to New Jersey to take on the Devils on Friday, then return to Montreal for a date next Saturday against the Nashville Predators.

95 Comments

  1. earl says:

    Newf, how many games have you seen won when scoring 0 goals?

  2. Mr.Hazard says:

    Excuse me, “Newfie”, if Huet had not let in those two “soft” goals, the score would be 0-0. Get a grip.

    Ex nihilo nihil fit

  3. A. Berke says:

    I don’t think that BG is slow in reacting, seems like it’s more of a case of there’s not a decent player worth trading for is available.

    Ali B.

  4. TradeRyder says:

    Oy vey!!

    TWO QUESTIONS:
    1. Where is our power play? and what is this disorganized thing in its place??
    2. How long are we going to have to wait until we have a REAL first line?!

    What an awful game to watch. The passes are going everywhere… Markov just made a pass BACK at the blue line and put HIMSELF offside. This game, and the one before, remind me of the Tremblay years… everyone moving in different directions, making passes without looking, HOPING someone will be there. Are the Sabres just that much better???? It can’t be. We lack grit (still). We lack consistency (still). We lack a power forward (still). Sigh.

    ____________________________________________________
    A bucket with a hole in it doesn’t hold water. We need changes on the first line!

  5. habsfan reduxit says:

    … while I might be a little more restrained in using colourful language, I would still have to agree with everything you say. And that includes a huge wonder about what Bob G. is thinking by being so,o,o,o s-l-o-w in doing something to improve this team. Either he’s far too patient for the team’s good, or the myth about players refusing to come here is not a myth after all.

  6. Rick Chartraw says:

    Wow, is that Kovalev out there throwing his weight around? He seems to be one of the few players moving tonight. Defence is absolutely allowing all Buffalo forwards to gain the line and wait for a reasonable play.

    They’ve been hard to watch lately. I hope they are not pulling a similar ploy to last year (or the year before).

  7. nightmare_49 says:

    Not yet.

  8. Sam Atalla says:

    Anybody know how I can watch the game from my computer? My dish signal with Bell isn’t working now. I heard about somethign called sopcast. i downloaded it and i clicked on the habs vs sabres live tv logo on the site. but its playing some football highlights or something..cfl. a bunch of rogers announcers talking. no hockey. what can i do?

  9. linp says:

    Buffalo is trying the same trick against us. They go right behind our net and pass back in front of our net. Our team is still shooting from far out.

    We got to bump Vanek away from Huet. Why didn’t we park someone in front of their net when we attack is beyond me.

    The photo speaks all. Vanek spends a lot of time in front of our net.

    I still believe that the way we play 5 v 5 is ineffective. We need to get someone in front of the net before we shoot. We need to control the puck behind their net first. Look for an open man and go for a bang-bang play. We need to score some garbage goals. Don’t blame the players. They did their best in the 3rd period. If you don’t have enough skill, you need an effective system. We just don’t have enough elite player (only Kovalev is world class). If we learn to play a system like Baffalo did, we should be OK. Our team has speed to do that. The problem is: Are our couches smart enough? Just mixing up the line is not going to work in a long run. You can energize players only for a game or two.

  10. Scotty90 says:

    Cournoyer12..Wow what? did I miss something?

  11. Scotty90 says:

    There are a couple of players that are overdue for a big night. Kovalev is due for a 3 pointer, Plek , Koivu and Markov a couple each. that said…its a tall order against the Sabres, unless Miller will be taking a rest. I didn’t see what the line-up is going to be yet, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Brisebois and Smolinski taking a rest and getting quicker and surer legs out there tonight. Go Habs!

  12. CHasman says:

    I have to agree with gumper, but to a lesser degree. I’ve watched every game this year and the intensity that Montreal showed early in this season is not the same. They seem to come out of the gate waiting for the other team to decide the pace of the game. I was really impressed with the work ethic of the team at one point this season but for some reason they’re not playing the same way now. That being said Habs Freak made a good point when he said the Canadiens are in a tough part of the schedule and they’ve hit a Buffalo team that is playing exceptional hockey right now. I watched them play Ottawa the other night and they did pretty much the same thing to the Senators. It will be interesting to see what the boys are made of tonight in the rematch.
    Habs Freak also makes a good point about Higgins. For Koivu to be better he needs to receive more passes from both Higgins and Ryder. There have been a lot of squandered soring chances because of a lack of passing on that line. The book is out on the first line and they need to change some things to keep the other team guessing. I know Carbo is telling them to shoot but I think they have to pass more.
    Smolinski drives me batty some games because he plays lazy sometimes. Latendresse is slowly improving, he still looks slow out there but at least he’s throwing his wait around. Streit is struggling for some reason and Bullion needs some more ice time. I think it’s time to give Komo some time on the PP. Ryder is playing better and has laid out some surprising body checks but he has to keep his feet moving. I was wondering why Begin wasn’t scoring but he seems to have worked it out. Still would like to see the hustle of Maxim Lapierre in the line up and the size of O’Byrne. Moostly I’d like to see a hard working team win a big game tonight.

  13. A. Berke says:

    Dave,

    I apologize posting this for a second time. The first one is with the last night’s postings and may not be looked at anymore as we’ve moved to this blog (in other words I’m not trying to be a pest!).

    So here it’s again. Also to the other posters: Any suggestions?

    I’ve noticed that the “powers to be” you had mentioned, made the change in format, i.e., last post on top. However now we have another problem (actually two):

    First, when one tries to click on the “reply” in order to reply to a specific post, this reply posts below the original one. In other words in time sequence it goes backwards. So in order to follow the posts chronically, one has to read up and down and up again. Kinda confusing.

    One easy remedy may be to remove the “reply” button all together.

    Second: when one posts a reply to a specific or a new post, after clicking the “post comment” button, the whole thing goes to the end of the last page, i.e. to the earliest posting and one has to navigate back to the top of the first page to see one’s own posting.

    Considering these two minor problems, I would like to suggest going back to the original style (with post #) and the last post at the bottom. It would also be easier if the original blog write-up is only on the first page and subsequent pages contain only the postings.

    This is not a critique but suggestions for hopefully finding a more user friendly and less confusing set-up.

    Otherwise lots of THANKS for the excellent job you and the rest of the group are doing. I’m personally grateful for HIO.

    Cheers,

    Ali B.

  14. A. Berke says:

    Unless my eyesight is failing me, what I saw last night (on RDS and with several replays), Koivu WAS pushed into the net and over that moron whiner miller.

    On the other hand Komi’s move was not a penalty but gaustadt’s chop on Pleks legs was and it wasn’t called. So miller should just put a sock in it (I have some unwashed socks that I’ll be happy to part with) 😉

    However the refs incompetence is not (and should not be) an excuse for the loss last night. It was the overall inadequate intensity, lack of hard work and poor skating/play were the reasons.

    Ali B.

  15. Thumper says:

    crikey gumper I hear what your saying as you were there, what is up with Saku?
    I hope a good Bell centre crowd can shake em up a bit.

  16. gumper says:

    I was at the game last night. Here are some observations. The entire team looked slow and disorganized in the first period and most of the second. For most of the night Buffalo took away the center of the skating area, leaving the Habs free to skate up and down the boards all night. When, in the third, they started to make some plays through the middle, they managed to tie it up. It almost seemed everyone was afraid to play in traffic. The Sabres had the jump when it came to forechecking, and once again we had difficulty winning key faceoffs. The powerplay was static and easily defended against, and almost no one appeared to be playing with any passion or sense of urgency. In short, it was a frustrating game to watch, and one the Habs didn’t deserve to win. The most ineffectual player on our “first” line was Koivu, who appeared, at times, lost and disconnected from the play. It concerns me that Carbonneau is making such a big deal about the “phantom” call. While it absolutely was not a penalty, I think he should be more worried about how to get his team motivated so that they don’t end up in situations where one bad call is enough to sink the team. While leaving the rink I was admonished by another Habs fan about being pessimistic, but the parallels between last year and this are striking. A strong start, followed by a prolonged “lose-one-win-one” pattern. All we’re waiting for now is the flu bug. This team appears sluggish and unmotivated right now. Time for the coach to step up, not make excuses. Sorry, Habs fans, if this seems pessimistic. To me it is simply realistic. Spoken like a true pessimist!!!

  17. moeman says:

    With two top Canadian teams like the Sens and Habs at home and the leaf far away from their home, which team gets the ‘coveted’ national game on hnic/HD?

    ~ have a powerful day ~

  18. ClaytonM says:

    Everyone knows what they need to do to win tonight – work harder. I’d say that’s what will happen and that’s why they’ll win tonight. The Habs dressing Huet is an obvious advantage, as we’ll either see the sabres’ backup goalie or a tired ryan miller. I’d rather he faced 42 shots last night instead of 32, but still, I like our chances. I also would have liked to have seen a more physical game last night from our boys. Some solid bodychecking the night before wouldn’t have hurt us one bit.

    Too bad we couldn’t sweep the sabres. We’d be one step closer to the sans for 1st in the East. Now we have to catch up to the hurrican’ts before aiming for the top.

    As for the article from John Vogl, that’s the definition of blatant homerism. He let’s miller have a forum to whine about Koivu and doesn’t mention the brutal call on Komisarek. Does the CBC have this guy’s info as a call up replacement in case of emergency?

    “Montreal’s vaunted power play finally struck two minutes later, but it appeared to catch a break. Captain Saku Koivu had a bump with Ryan Miller as the goaltender made a save, and Miller had to scramble to get to his skates. Meanwhile, Christopher Higgins collected the rebound and ripped a shot past Miller.

    The play incensed the goaltender. He hinted that the referees didn’t call a penalty as a form of retribution for a comment he made earlier.

    “His explanation was I was yelling at him about a gloved puck in the first period,” Miller said. “That’s all he said to me after that, so I’m really confused as to why he wasn’t watching my crease.

    “Koivu does it every night. All the refs here should know that he’s going to come and touch the goalie at least once a night, or make it look like he got pushed in. It’s pretty obvious, and it’s every year, every season, every game. I don’t see how the refs cannot know players. They ref enough.”

    Let’s hope every player gets a chance to park himself by miller tonight. They have plenty of ammo to trash talk him with. Those crazy boards we have, for example 🙂

  19. linp says:

    I like what I read from another poster: “A Coach delivering a GAME PLAN ACCORDING TO THE OPPOSITION”
    The Sabres seems to skate faster and get to the puck sooner than us. If we can’t out-skate them, then we should out-hit them and play the trap.
    Unfortunately, we are playing at home tonight. We can’t play a defensive game.
    Hopefully, the home crowd can get us going and we score the first goal.

  20. N.B. habs fan 50 yrs says:

    come on people….. are we not allowed to lose a few games without everyone giving the coach or ref.and the players a hard time .I do get upset when we lose but I am glad I am not a leafs fan ,and we are a team who sticks up for one another The young players just need more time and need us to cheer them on instead of putting the down because they make a few mistakes so lets be the fans the need us to be and have confidence in them GO HABS GO

  21. von says:

    Hope the Habs play hard tonight, after last nights let down.

    BTW, I agree with J.T., that Kovy pic is awesome!!! Any chance of a high res copy for the computer background? That would be dirty!!!


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