Sabres — minus Miller — could be fired up vs. Habs

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After two stirring overtime road wins, the Canadiens return home for a divisional game against the Sabres, who may be stirred up themselves. The Habs trail Buffalo by four points.

It will be the teams’ second meeting of the season, after Buffalo defeated Montreal 3-1 on Oct. 18. That game marked the Habs’ third home loss in a row to start the season, the first time that had ever happened.

The Habs outplayed the Sabres who were saved by Ryan Miller (pictured). Miller stopped 40 shots. Montreal led early in the second period. Buffalo tied it midway through and got the eventual game winner with three seconds left in the middle period on a faceoff play following Josh Gorges’ uncharacteristic icing with six seconds to go in the period. The Sabres added an empty netter with half a minute remaining in the third.

Tonight, the Sabres come into the Bell Centre off a dispiriting 6-2 loss Saturday to the Bruins, which ended a four-game winning streak. But most noteworthy was Milan Lucic running Miller and the Sabres really not responding to their goalie being attacked.

If somehow you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the link to the video.

Lucic received only a minor penalty. Miller stayed in the game, but felt increasingly worse and did not play in the third period. The Bruins dominated the game afterward, scoring six consecutive goals, including the go-ahead goal and a third one just 14 seconds apart in the middle period.

Miller had some particularly harsh words for Lucic afterward, and here’s the video of that. Lucic said, “You know, we wouldn’t accept anything like that. We would have [taken] care of business. But we’re a different team than they are.” Here’s the full video of his post-game remarks.

On Sunday evening, the Sabres disclosed Miller is out with a concussion. Lucic has a disciplinary hearing Monday afternoon with the NHL on the incident.

The Sabres did not skate on Sunday but coach Lindy Ruff — clearly displeased by his team’s not sticking up for Miller — had a meeting with his players. Here’s how Mike Harrington, blogging for the Buffalo News, described the scene: “There were understandably a lot of stern faces and Lindy Ruff was not pleased one iota. Told by team spokesman Mike Gilbert that reporters were waiting to speak to him, Ruff curtly responded, “[Bleep] the media” and stormed out of the building. Ruff is often touchy around reporters from Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa but on this day there were just four Buffalo people waiting (myself, Paul Hamilton from WGR, and Kevin Snow and Scott Miner from Sabres.com) and no one from Montreal. It will be a wee bit different tomorrow morning.”

Some Sabres players who spoke with the media — notably Paul Gausted, who was on the ice when Lucic ran Miller — expressed a good deal of remorse for their placid response.

“I hoped I could have done more there,” Gaustad said. “It was something where I thought it was an illegal hit and today it’s one of those things you take a look at how guys respond and how I responded and I can only look at myself and look myself in the mirror. I wasn’t good enough as a player last night to help the team win.”

Ruff was angered and let his team know it, so you can expect the Sabres will play Monday’s game with a good deal of emotion. Gausted will likely be playing guilty and opposition teams always have to watch out for Patrick Kaleta, who is coming off a suspension for head butting.

Miller won’t be in the lineup. He hasn’t played particularly well in any event and his backup, Jhonas Enroth, is unbeaten in five decisions. His .944 save percentage and 1.75 GAA both rank fifth among NHL goalies. He’s allowed only 11 goals in seven appearances. At 5-foot-10, Enroth is small by current goaltending standards, but very quick and agile.

Drew MacIntyre has been summoned from Rochester to be Enroth’s backup.

Tomas Vanek, playing the best hockey of his career, leads the Sabres with 11 goals, tied for second in the league. His five power play goals are tied for the league’s best total. Jason Pominville has collected 14 assists as Vanek’s linemate. Their line with Luke Adams between them should get a lot of attention, although the second line with Derek Roy between Ville Leino and Drew Stafford are no slouches. Leino has underperformed so far, but Roy — coming off a serious injury — has played well.

Buffalo’s effort to rebuild their defence corps looks to be paying off. They have allowed only 40 goals in their 17 games, third best in the East. But big, young Tyler Myers is struggling defensively. He didn’t play well against the Bruins and is minus-7 in his last three games.

The Sabres power play is clicking at a 19 percent rate (12 for 63), 10th in the league. Their penalty kill is one of the best in the league, they’ve killed off 91.2 percent, allowing only five goals in 57 chances. Gausted is an excellent penalty killer and very strong on faceoffs as is Roy. Pominville and Kaleta also see lots of time on the PK.

Here’s how the Sabres could line up tonight:

Thomas Vanek, Luke Adam, Jason Pominville
Ville Leino, Derek Roy, Drew Stafford
Nathan Gerbe, Paul Gaustad, Brad Boyes
Cody McCormick, Matt Ellis, Patrick Kaleta

Andrej Sekera, Tyler Myers
Robyn Regehr, Jordan Leopold
Marc-Andre Gragnani, Christian Ehrhoff

Jhonas Enroth
Drew MacIntyre

20 Comments

  1. RobertAlanFord says:

    I only just saw Lucic on Miller video, and honestly, I think Miller made a dumb move to charge the puck that far out of the net with “Lucy” bombing down the ice. Don’t get me wrong, I’m against Lucy’s decision to run him over rather than trying to strip him of the puck and burying it. That would’ve put Miller in an even tougher spot considering Enroth’s recent success. But in that brief moment of reflection just before impact , which clearly there was some, Lucy decided that a possible uproar and a date with Shanny is the classy way to go by Bruin standards.

    And these are the “classy” players mentoring real talent like Seguin. Poor bugger deserves better.

    “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro”, Hunter S. Thompson.

  2. Stev.R says:

    Sabres could be fired up, they could be completely distracted. Hell they could be Pilgrims from the planet Plymouth visiting Earth to check up on their stuffing mines.

    What a silly title…

  3. aversglay says:

    Isn’t it a choice between a real punishment for Lucic, or a declaration of open season on Thomas?

  4. Tony McLean says:

    Let’s see what Sham-a-ham serves up. Joke or justice.
    ———————————————————–
    If it wasn’t for St. Patrick the Canadiens would be Leafs East.

  5. Higman says:

    Lucic’s Letter to Shanahan

    Deer Meester Shanuhan,

    Hokee iz fun, so pleez dun’t susspend mee. The goaly got inn my way and shoodn’t doo that.

    Thanx,

    L

    Shanahan’s Letter to Lucic

    Dear Mr. Lucic,

    Thank you kindly for your thoughtful letter. We took it into consideration of the incident in review. We have decided that your hit was an example of a good “hockey play” with “unfortunate results”.

    Sincerely,
    Brendan Shanahan

  6. SmartDog says:

    Shanahan’s about to show us whether the league is going to try to stop the Bruins from injuring key players as a way to try to win another cup.

    The excuse is thin, the action is obvious. If Shanahan comes back with another ” this was a tough one but no suspension” we’ll know the fix is in – the ‘protect the Bruins’ legacy continues.

    ————————————-
    Listen to the Smart Dog. He knows his poop!

    • So explain to me why 29 other teams are putting up with the Boston thugs? I don’t get it. When I played hockey, if one guy or one team was constantly taking out our players and the officials didn’t do anything about it, we did. 29 teams are taking feces from this Booins team and nobody is doing anything about it, including the “hockey” play by Lerch on Max-Pac. Enough is enough! The players in the league have to take it into their own hands because we know the league and officials won’t come down on the Booins. The only way to deal with a schoolyard bully is to beat them up so badly that they won’t ask for that lunch money ever again from you.

      Promote the Youth, Support From The Veterans and Remember the Heritage!

  7. DrA says:

    Take the same situation and replace Miller with Price. Not sure anyone on the habs would have done anymore. That is what upsets me the most.

  8. HardHabits says:

    Maybe SF09 has a response given that the Bruins just stood around when Savard got nailed.

    “And Lucic didn’t think too highly of Buffalo’s decision not to retaliate: “We wouldn’t accept anything like that,” he said. “We would have taken care of business. But we’re a different team than they are.” Personally, I would have liked to see someone run Tim Thomas(notes) in retaliation once that game got out of hand, but I may be just be speaking as a Vancouverite…”

    The Sabres to a man are bemoaning that they didn’t retaliate.

    I deplore fighting. However there are occasions where fighting back is warranted.

    Problem is, and Lucic knows this, He is insulated by his size and that his Bruins pack more punch than the Sabres.

    This is the same Sabres team who in one fight turned the tables on the Habs last game they played.

  9. Big Ted says:

    Initially, you look at the hit and you think, “ok, I know Lucic hit him on purpose, but it looked like body-on-body and that’s a penalty but it’s hard to say much more.”

    However, on closer inspection, the following elements made me re-think the issue:

    1. Lucic, after the initial contact, gets his elbow up into the back of Miller’s head, which is what sends his helmet flying off. The initial point of contact isn’t the head, so I don’t think this falls under the head-shot rule, but this doesn’t have to be a head-shot to be considered for suspension. This was a deliberate blow that caused injury and I think this could fall under the category of a dangerous or reckless hit with intent to injure.

    2. Lucic has a history, which seems to be big with Shanahan. I hope that gets taken into consideration.

    3. Lucic was smiling on his way to the box, and his excuse after the game was along the line of not being able to avoid Miller… clearly not the case according to the replay and in line with the Bruins’ other miserable excuses like “I didn’t even know it was Pacioretty” or “my finger got stuck in my glove”… Letterman’s going to have to do a Top 10 Lame Bruins’ Excuses soon because there are some stupid ones. The bottom line is that it was pretty clear Lucic had every intention of making that hit and making it hurt.

    If I’m Shanahan, I don’t think there’s any other way to see this than a guy trying (and succeeding) to injure a rival via a hit to the head. No, it doesn’t meet the criteria for the new head shot rule, but a little overriding common sense would tell you that this isn’t the only reason to suspend someone and that Lucic’s intent to injure is enough. I said it when Campoli was hurt, but if the league is really interested in getting head shots out of the game, they would make it black and white that you can’t hit a guy in the head, the same way you can’t high-stick a guy in the face, no matter whether it was an accident or he moved his head right before. If the league had any guts and any smarts, it would suspend Lucic 5 games, so that he’s not around the next time the Bruins face the Sabres in 9 days. It might help to prevent a brawl and it’s really the only fair thing for a Sabres team that just lost their starting goalie indefinitely.

    • pierre lapuck says:

      And I would like to add, following the hit Lucic stopped, did not continue the hockey play, but stood over Miller like a gladiator over his vanquished prey. I’ve always hated bullies.

  10. Marc10 says:

    What are the odds Lucic gets more than a game?

  11. vivsterjuve88 says:

    looks like we don’t even have to be playing the bruins to face the consequences of their goonery…
    that being said, is there anything in the rule book that says you can’t check a goalie as though he’s a skater once he’s outside his crease? I actually don’t know if there is, just wondering… or is it just an unwritten rule amongst players?

    • hirky says:

      I agree….if this hit takes place behind the net I think alot less people are angered. I think if Lucic even tries 1 iota to get out of the way he has a case regarding his intentions but I believe he made ZERO attempt and knew exactly what was going to happen. I think the hit was legal but totally preventable…

      As for the Habs, i think if this game was in Buffalo it would be a different story. I think the Habs will come out as fired up as the Sabres and if the Habs can score first then i think the wind will be out of the Sabres sails. I think you could see Kaleta try and send a message early if anyone gets near Enroth.

      Someone explain to me when the Habs will try and revamp their PP strategy. It hasnt worked the last couple of years and they need to re-think it. With Patch and Cole I believe they should focus on point shots with those guys in front. Both are excellent at tipping the puck. I think Cammaleri needs more opportunities to shoot the puck too, i think they need to treat him as they did AK27 and let him walk off the side wall and blast it. It will lead to success if the opponents respect the point shot and it sets up MC13’s snipe show.

      DISCIPLINE….the #1 key to this game, the Sabres PP is a Hab killer, especially Vanek, the Habs need to stay outta the box.

      GO HABS!!!!

  12. pmaraw says:

    why is it that montreal seems to be the only team that sticks up for themselves vs the bruins?

  13. RS says:

    As good as Enroth has been playing and as shakey as Miller has been, I’m still glad the Habs don’t have to face Miller.

  14. Timo says:

    Whatever… we have Gomez.


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