Alright Habs fans, are you ready for some NHL hockey or what? The Canadiens will face off with the Buffalo Sabres in the first of seven preseason games Sunday night at 7:30 PM EST. The game will be available for your viewing pleasure courtesy of RDS, who are dedicated to airing each exhibition game this September.
Freshly signed Zach Fucale joins Peter Budaj as the goalies for the Habs tonight, while Buffalo counters with Jhonas Enroth and Matt Hackett.
With the minimum number of NHL veterans the team can ice at eight players, the early preseason games will be an opportunity for fans to watch Montreal’s rookies in action. However, with few to no open roster spots for them to steal, the rookies will be aiming to impress GM Marc Bergevin and Head Coach Michel Therrien in the event that they should be called up to the club when injuries occur.
The formation for tonight’s lineups, based on this morning’s practice lines, are as follows:
Galchenyuk – Eller – Gallagher
Prust – Reway – Collberg
Bournival – St-Pierre – McCarron
Nystrom – Holland – Andrighetto
Drewiske – Diaz
Tinordi – Pateryn
Lashoff – Nygren
Ott – Grigorenko – Leino
Stafford – Larsson – Girgensons
Flynn – Porter – Adam
Kaleta – McCormick – Gillies
Weber – Ristolainen
Tallinder – Pysyk
Zadorov – McBain
NHL realignment places rivals Buffalo and Montreal, formerly of the Northeast division, in the newly minted Atlantic division. Tomas Vanek remains the Sabres most dangerous sniper, but both he and goalie Ryan Miller have been rumoured to be on their way out as the team focuses on rebuilding.
Vanek scored 5 goals in as many games last year against the Habs while Tyler Ennis also had 5 points, including 2 goals. The Canadiens went 2-1-2 against the Sabres over the course of last year.
Buffalo is banking on a rebound season from 6’8 defenseman Tyler Myers. The 23-year-old broke into the NHL in 2009-2010 as rookie and put up 11 goals and 48 points. However, his production has dropped off in each of the subsequent three season. In 39 games last year before missing the end of the season with a broken bone in his leg, the rearguard scored only 3 goals and 8 points.
As the Habs take to the ice for their first preseason tilt, some prospects to keep an eye on are:
RW Michael McCarron (#25): The Habs first round pick in 2013 is 6’5, 237lbs.
RW Sebastien Collberg (#38): This 19-year-old may challenge Christian Thomas and Louis Leblanc for a roster spot this season.
C Martin Reway (#89): Has dazzled fans and the team alike with slick skills and a natural talent to score even though he’s Desharnais tiny at 5’8, 170lbs.
D Jarred Tinordi (#24): Of the defense prospects currently in camp, Tinordi has the best shot at cracking a Habs blueline laden with veterans.
G Zach Fucale (#70): This Laval, QC goalie is living the dream right now as he suits up for his hometown Montreal Canadiens. He’ll be nervous, but he’s been very tough to beat throughout camp.
Diminutive prospect Martin Reway is making a name for himself in Montreal. The Prague, Czech Republic native has impressed through both the Canadiens’ rookie camp and main camp thus far. At only 18-years of age he will almost certainly be returned to his junior team, the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL, before the end of training camp. Nonetheless, he’s a player to keep an eye on during preseason play.
Goaltender Zach Fucale, selected 36th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, signed a 3-year entry level contract with the Canadiens just minutes after the team’s intra-squad scrimmage at the Bell Centre. Fucale continues to prove he has a bright future ahead of him and the Montreal Canadiens have promptly invested in that future.
Montreal cut three prospects from training camp after the Saturday matinee scrimmage at the Bell Centre. Returning to their junior team are Tim Bozon (Kamloops), Connor Crisp (Sudbury), and Jeremy Gregoire (Baie Comeau). Bozon was drafted in the third round of the 2012 entry draft, while Crisp and Gregoire joined the organization via the 2013 draft, taken in the third and sixth rounds respectively.