If it was Guy Carbonneau’s goal for Friday night’s game versus the Buffalo Sabres was to get Michael Ryder scoring again, he succeeded. However, if the kind coach had anything else in mind for tonight’s game, then he too watched the team’s abysmal play as they fell 3-0 during the first period of play.
The 4-1 loss was certainly not easy to watch, even with Ryder giving the team and fans alike some hope with his third of the season just a tick over two minutes into the second frame. From there on, though, what hope was left soon deflated as Clarke MacArthur scored his second of the game four minutes after Ryder brought the Habs within two.
While the Habs’ emotional game paled in comparison to the 4-3 overtime win against the Leafs on Saturday, you can bet that the blood will begin to boil between these two division rivals with yet another two games to conclude next week’s schedule. Montreal will be in Buffalo yet again next Friday before hosting them for the teams’ fifth meeting of the season the next night.
The game in Buffalo marked the last leg of a four game road trip for the Habs, who went 2-2-0 during that span. If there’s any good news heading out of this game is that they won’t have too long to mull over the loss and what could have been with the Boston Bruins in town Saturday night.
Montreal’s first line has been in a slump as a whole, going the entire road trip without a goal. So again the return home will be good news, especially for Christopher Higgins who has scored all six of his goals at the Bell Center this season.
It will be the third meeting of the season between the Bruins and Habs, with Montreal winning the previous two while holding the Bruins to only a singly goal in each of those games.
In their most recent match up, Montreal skated to a 2-1 win in what was a much more defensive outing for the Bruins given the 6-1 defeat the New England club suffered back on October 22nd to the same Habs.
Boston is coming off of a big 5-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, a game that saw former Senator pick up two goals and an assist.
It’s early in the season, but Boston are currently in the playoff picture, and they can send most of their thanks to the man in the mask, Tim Thomas. The 33-year-old picked up his seventh win of the season Wednesday night versus the Leafs, and he’ll be surely looking for an eighth against Montreal Saturday evening.
It will be a much younger netminder at the other end of the ice though, as Carey Price will suit up for just his seventh career NHL start.
It will be the second game Price plays against the Bruins, having played in their most recent match, the 2-1 win. The 20-year-old currently holds a 4-1-1 record and could push coach Carbonneau to give him some extra playing time with another win against Boston. It will be Carey’s second start on home ice.
One criticism I feel necessary to bring up after the poor display against the Sabres is Carbonneau’s line juggling. When the Habs were slumping last season, the juggling didn’t work, and the tactic proved the same results tonight.
If you’re going to change things up in practice two days before a game, why flip them back after only a period of play? Carbonneau should stick to his guns and ride out the some of the decisions he made. Maybe he saw an opportunity to test out some different lines with the Habs down 3-0 and 4-1, but there is testing, and then there is overdoing it.
With Ryder scoring in the second period while serving on the team’s third line, maybe it would have been best to leave him there to see if he could build on it. However, it wasn’t long before he was back to the first line where there was just nothing happening, as per the past few games.
One thing is for sure though, with the pressure off of Ryder to pot one, the heat will definitely be on both Higgins and Saku Koivu to bring their offensive game Saturday night.
Here’s hoping the team responds and we get some concrete lineups.