Friday night sees the Montreal Canadiens (12-6-3) play the Buffalo Sabres (8-10-1) at the HSBC arena in Buffalo New York, in a rematch of last Friday night’s game in which Buffalo beat Montreal 4-2. Montreal enters Friday night’s game in 4th place in the Eastern Conference, while Buffalo is lagging behind in 14th spot. The game time is 7:30pm and can be seen on RDS and MSG if you live in New York. Montreal is leading the season series against Buffalo 2-1; both wins coming at the Bell Centre and the sole loss last Friday in Buffalo.
The Habs are coming off a sound beating of the New York Islanders on Wednesday night. Steve Begin had two goals, while Chris Higgins and Tomas Plekanec added singles. Huet looked solid allowing the only Islander’s goal late in the game with under five minutes to play. Other than a few late penalties from the Canadiens they looked in control throughout the majority of the match. Buffalo also played on Wednesday night at the HSBC arena against the hottest team in the NHL, the Ottawa Senators. Buffalo scored an impressive 4-2 victory and is starting to look more and more like the team from last year that made it to the Eastern Conference finals.
In lineup news, the Habs appear to be happy with the current lineups and as long as they keep winning it does not look like there is much reason to tinker. Carey Price looks like he will get the nod in goal as Huet will get the night off and will likely be back in goal on Saturday night against Buffalo in Montreal. The Canadiens appear to be a healthy bunch at the moment and Chris Higgins looks fine after shaking off a minor injury he picked up last Saturday against Boston.
Montreal would be smart to play a tighter checking game against Buffalo then they did last Friday. Clarke MacArthur managed to score twice on the Habs last Friday, if MacArthur is able to have a repeat performance there is a good chance the Habs will be facing defeat again. Derek Roy leads the Sabres in points this season with 15 and is one of their biggest threats along with Vanek.
In order for the Habs to be successful in Buffalo Friday night they need to start playing a little more consistent defensively. Much of the early season success can be credited to quality team defence, however in a few games over the last two weeks they have struggled. It is also important that Montreal does not take Buffalo to lightly, Buffalo has been playing very well of late and Montreal found out first hand last Friday in Buffalo. The Canadiens have had success against Buffalo this season going 2-1, however, the HSBC arena is never an easy building to play in, look for Lindy Ruff to have his players ready to go in this important divisional game.
A home and home meeting coming up this weekend for the Habs against Buffalo; if Montreal wants to keep pace with the Ottawa Senators in the Northeast Division it looks as though the four points is a must. Guy Carbonneau will hope for a good performance from his goaltending duo and hope that the powerplay can keep firing and the much improved penalty kill continues to have success.