What a difference a year makes.
After finishing in last place in the Eastern Conference last season with a 31-35-16 record, the Canadiens clinched a playoff spot with Thursday’s 5-1 win over the Sabres in Buffalo. The Canadiens (26-9-5) also moved into first place in the Northeast Division, one point ahead of the Boston Bruins (26-10-4) with eight games remaining in the regular season.
“We’re proud to make the playoffs,” coach Michel Therrien said after the game in Buffalo.
“It’s not easy to make the playoffs, there are good teams that don’t make the playoffs,” Therrien added. “It’s a good accomplishment, but it’s only the first step. We realize there’s a lot of hockey to be played and there are more steps coming.”
The Canadiens will be back in action Saturday when they face the Maple Leafs in Toronto (7 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690). Carey Price will be back in goal for the Canadiens after backup Peter Budaj extended his winning streak to seven games in Buffalo.
The lines at practice Friday in Toronto were: Bourque-Plekanec-Gionta; Pacioretty-Desharnais-Gallagher; Galchenyuk-Eller-Ryder; Prust-Halpern-Moen; White-Dumont-Blunden.
The defence pairings were: Markov-Bouillon; Subban-Gorges; Beaulieu-Drewiske; Weber-Kaberle.
(Photo by John Kenney/The Gazette)