Habs can clinch playoff spot with win in Buffalo

 Following the New Jersey Devils’ 5-4 loss to the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, the Canadiens can clinch a playoff spot with a victory over the Sabres Thursday night in Buffalo (7:30 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690).

If the playoffs had started Thursday, based on the standings following Wednesday’s games, the Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs would meet in the first round.

With the season-ending knee injury to Alexei Emelin, GM Marc Bergevin’s decision to pick up defenceman Davis Drewiske from the Los Angeles Kings at the NHL trade deadline in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick is turning out to be a great insurance move.

Drewiske (photo above) only played 29 games over the past two seasons with the Kings, but has suited up for all four games with the Canadiens since coming to Montreal. He logged 17:23 of ice time during Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals.

Drewiske didn’t play much in Los Angeles, but he was well respected by his teammates and management. While he didn’t see any action in the playoffs last season, Drewiske received a Stanley Cup ring from the Kings, his name is engraved on the Cup and he had a chance to meet U.S. President Barack Obama when the Kings visited the White House.

“The Kings petitioned the NHL to have my name on the Cup,” Drewiske told The Gazette’s Pat Hickey. “It was a great gesture on their part.”

Drewiske is enjoying the ice time he’s getting with the Canadiens.

“I think in some ways, playing 20-plus minutes … I don’t want to say it’s easier, but sometimes when you’re playing 14-15 minutes, it’s hard to get a rhythm going,” the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder told Hickey. “But no matter how much you’re playing, when your number is called you have to be ready.”

The Canadiens held an optional skate Thursday morning in Buffalo. The only players who didn’t take part were Max Pacioretty, Michael Ryder, Brian Gionta and Francis Bouillon. Peter Budaj, who signed a two-year, $2.8-million contract extension on Wednesday, will get the start in goal and will be looking to extend his six-game winning streak. Jeff Halpern will play in his 900th career NHL game.

Hickey sets the stage for the game against the Sabres in the video below, which was produced by The Gazette’s John Mahoney:

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Game Preview: Canadiens vs. Sabres, canadiens.com

Canadiens can clinch playoff berth against Sabres, NHL.com

Game notes, buffalosabres.com

Drewiske a late bloomer in hockey, by Pat Hickey

Budaj gets start and two-year contract extension, by Pat Hickey

Up close with Peter Budaj, canadiens.com

Bruins’ Marchand injured in win over Devils, boston.com

Habs’ street-hockey tournament helps underprivileged kids, by Dave Stubbs

Habs assistant GM Dudley gets assist on Martin St. Louis hitting 900-point mark, by Stu Cowan

Gomez a healthy scratch for Sharks, by Stu Cowan

Montreal’s Goulakos leads Colgate while battling cancer, by Brenda Branswell

411 Comments

  1. habsgod says:

    HERE’S s good site to go and talk hockey lot’s of fun and great hockey talk

    http://hockeytraderumors.com/

  2. HammerHab says:

    Just got a pair of tickets to the game tonight! It’ll be my 2nd Habs game ever….first was an OT loss to the Leafs at the Bell Centre, I expect a better result this time around!

    ———————————–

    It’ll always be Habs Inside/Out to me

  3. ClutchNGrab says:

    Not sure if they have been posted here, but saw the two following videos, they were posted on Mathias Brunet’s blog today:

    http://youtu.be/1OZarRFtjCU
    http://youtu.be/Juv3ahmA0GM

    • Storman says:

      Like to see Pacioretty hit like that again with the big boys he has it in him, just does not do it enough..no mean streak at all..
      Subban moved up to forward could even see that with the big boys in a desperate need for a goal situation.

  4. jols101 says:

    Many line combos being floated out today.

    I like the lines Therrien is going with tonight. Just one minor adjustment needed – give the Eller line 3 more minutes of ice and give the DD line 3 less minutes of ice.

    Go Habs Go!!!

  5. frontenac1 says:

    I can’t remember who I picked in the Masters Pool. I was pretty hammered. Better head over to the Saloon to check.Saludos Amigos!

  6. govenah says:

    Here are my lines:

    Bourque – Plekanec – Ryder
    Galchenyuk – Eller – Gallagher
    Pacioretty – Desharnais – Moen
    Prust – Halpern – Gionta

  7. habsfan0 says:

    Jays now trailing 10-1.
    I suspect a comeback is not in the cards today.

  8. Habfan10912 says:

    College Hockey’s version of the final four, the frozen four, begins today.
    4:30 Yale vs U Mass Lowell
    8:00 St. Cloud (great uniforms) vs Quinnipiac
    Games can be seen in the US on ESPN 2

  9. bwoar says:

    Going to the game tonight at the MTS Centre vs. the Panthers! If anyone’s in the crowd, look for the guy in the red #9 Habs jersey.

    “thoroughbred”

  10. pmaraw says:

    my biggest concern is, who’s gonna be first on the liveblog today, won’t be me, I jinxed the last game, so hopefully someone with some good mojo goin’ on

  11. Max says:

    I absolutely love the Laff fans and their incessant chest thumping and bravado these days.

    They may actually make the playoffs for the first time in a decade and are talking down the habs and have the series already won even though it may not even happen.

    Awkward Kessel and that perpetually constipated looking face and their other assorted losers.

    They will always be my most hated team and fanbase and I wish them nothing bad bad luck for eternity.

    Never mind the fact that they are basically supported by the Canadian government/taxpayers through their media machine.

  12. HabinBurlington says:

    For the golf fans out there, I seem to recall a question about who to take in the pool as a darkhorse. I mentioned KJ Choi, he is looking good today, no way Leishman stays near the top tomorrow.

  13. frontenac1 says:

    I’ve liked Volchenkov since I first saw him in Ottawa. He likes to hit hard.Habs should make a play for him next year.TU-74 and Volchenkov.Berlin 1945 all over again amigos.

  14. Rudy says:

    I am hoping the Jets take either the Islanders or Rangers spots, Four Canadian teams in one conference, and each of them playing a US team……………I can dream can’t i?

    • Loonie says:

      Jets take Ottawa’s place with a win and a Sens loss tonight.

      • jols101 says:

        If that happens tonight the Sens still have 2 games in hand on the Jets so the Sens would still be on the top 8.

        • Loonie says:

          They have to earn a point in that game in hand to get back in.

          They’ve also been taking on water for two weeks.

          • jols101 says:

            Agreed that the Sens are sinking fast. But even if the Jets win and the Sens lose again, both teams have 44 points, but the Jets will have played 42 games and the Sens only 40. So the Sens will remain ahead of the Jets.

          • Loonie says:

            At the end of the season nobody has games in hand. The Senators have to win to keep their spot.

          • jols101 says:

            Loonie, I realize that. No argument from me. I was just correcting your statement above that if the Jets win and the Sens lose tonight that the Jets would take the Sens out of the playoffs. That isn’t accurate.

          • Loonie says:

            Jols, games in hand mean nothing without a win. Of the four teams that would be tied under these circumstances the Senators would have the least amount of regulation or overtime wins. That’s the tiebreaker, they will be on the outside looking in with a loss and a Jets win.

            I understand the standings will show them in eight place in this scenario, but that’s a flawed formality. They’re out if the standings hold form in this scenario.

        • jols101 says:

          Ok, if the Sens lose and the Jets win, we will go to NHL.com and check the standings. Ottawa will still be in the playoffs and Winnipeg will still not be in the playoffs. Games in hand do determine the rankings until all games are played.

          • Loonie says:

            I understand the standings will show them in eight place in this scenario, but that’s a flawed formality. They’re out if the standings hold form in this scenario.

          • jols101 says:

            Agreed. You are right about the Jets having more ROW, so at the end of the year if both teams are tied Ottawa would be out.

      • Rudy says:

        If Winnipeg wins, won’t they take Islanders spot (assuming they lose) or Rangers spot (since they aren’t playing tonight? I’d like a screen shot of all 4 of them in the top 8. Assuming an Ottawa loss.

      • ClutchNGrab says:

        No. The fewer number of games played is the first tiebreaker.

        • Loonie says:

          Okay. Here’s my point. A Sens loss and a Jets win leaves the four teams mentioned tied. The Senators have the least amount of ROW wins. If the standings hold form over the rest of the season the Senators would finish in 9th.

          • jols101 says:

            Yes, this is 100% correct, but your first comment above was 100% wrong.

          • Storman says:

            I am with you on that Loonie the standings should reflect the tie breakers (ROW) and not the games in hand, very amateur way of displaying the standings IMO..

          • Loonie says:

            Okay. It’s 100% wrong to say that the Senators would be out with a loss and a Jets win. Except that the Senators would have to earn an extra point over the course of the season to get back into the playoff picture.

            If you want to split hairs and be a jerk about it I could point out that games in hand has never in the history of any North American sport decided a tie-breaker in determining the playoffs.

    • Rudy says:

      WOW, sorry to have started this. Regardless, there is no way that Winnipeg makes it into the 8th spot tonight.

  15. Hockey Bob says:

    Well here in Toronto the callers and host Jeff Blair are hoping to play the Habs because they believe they can knock them off easier than Pitts or Bruins.

    • Dr.Rex says:

      Funny how a team that hasn’t sniffed the playoffs in a decade, haven’t clinched yet and have no NHL caliber centers are suddenly not only talking like their playoff spot is a wrap but that they will beat a superior opponent. Talk about embellishment of hope.

      • Luke says:

        No NHL Calibre centres?

        The Leafs are fine at centre.
        Kadri is excelling.
        Bozak is fine.
        McClement has been terriffic in his role (I was really hoping MB would sign him and Prust).
        Grabbo is struggling this season.


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