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)