It was only a matter of time before Michael Ryder’s struggles caught up to him. In the Habs first 17 games this season, he has 2 goals and is a -1 resulting in a demotion for Friday night’s tilt in Buffalo to the third line. Ryder will see action alongside Smolinski and Bégin and taking his spot on the first line will be Tom Kostopoulos.
“Basically, the coaches have told me to shoot the puck more and that’s what I’m going to have to do to get out of this,” the two-time 30 goal scorer said on his current slump. Fortunately for Ryder, the Montreal Canadiens have been a force so far this season in the National Hockey League. They are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and sit in sole position of 4th in the Eastern Conference.
Cristobal Huet will be in goal Friday night for the Habs. Judging by Price’s early success so far this season, Montreal just might have the best goaltending tandem in the league. It will be interesting to see what happens with Huet in the near future as he will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1st. There is no doubt that Huet will continue to generate interest around the league and at 32 years of age, he still has good years ahead of him.
The Sabres will be playing their second game in 2 nights as they played Thursday night at Scotiabank place in Ottawa. Buffalo is obviously a much different team than last year when they tied an NHL record for the fastest to 15 wins in a season, accomplishing the feat in 17 games. So far the Sabres are 6-9-1 heading into Ottawa but have managed to be .500 on home ice (4-4-0). However the Buffalo squad have some inspiration to build on, last season the Ottawa Senators had an identical record in their first 16 games and went on to the Stanley Cup Final.
The Montreal Canadiens have a healthy squad as they wrap up a four game road trip. The following are the forward lines head coach Guy Carbonneau put together at practice on Wednesday;
Higgins Koivu Kostopoulos
Kostitsyn Plekanec Kovalev
Smolinski Begin Ryder
Latendresse Chipchura Dandenault
20-year-old Latendresse also gets a demotion as he moves from third to fourth line. Mikhail Grabovski remains the odd man out as a healthy scratch unless there is a last minute adjustment.
The Habs roll into Buffalo to take on the Sabres for the first of 3 matchups in 9 days. Before a home and home series next Friday and Saturday, the Canadiens are back on home ice Saturday night against the Bruins and Monday night vs. the Sens before they head to Long Island on Wednesday.