Last night I caught the game from Montreal Hockey Talk's studio out in Dollard for the first time, and watching those jerseys on their giant TV was an assault on the eyeballs. During the game I thought Mike Obrand was making a joke asking what was worse for the Sabres, their record or their third jerseys? Turns out that was a TSN Quiz question and he was just reading it off of one of the other TVs. After the game, I also joined their postgame show.
Perhaps it was the jerseys that had the Habs looking so sleepy, because the whole game it looked like they never really pushed the play. They dominated the Sabres at even strength, but that was more due to an obscene talent disparity than it was due to playing hard.
Carey Price's consistently excellent play likely should have resulted in a shutout tonight, but an uncalled hit from behind on P.K. Subban ruined that, with Habs killer Matt Moulson striking late in the second period to cut the Habs' lead to one. Price wasn't tested a ton in the game, but he still did manage some late game heroics, staving off Buffalo's routine last minute comeback attempt with a great reaction save on a puck that got through him and was dribbling towards the goal line.
Price's .936 save percentage is now second in the NHL among starting goaltenders, overtaking Tuukka Rask after he got lit up for six goals last night. Only Josh Harding remains above Price, and he's facing about 22 shots a game, compared to Price's 31.4 per game. Over his previous six starts, Price has a .952 save percentage to go along with his 4-1-1 record. He's playing out of his mind.
If Price isn't your team MVP 25 games into the season. one of either Subban or Andrei Markov has to be. Subban's 70% Fenwick against the Sabres only tells part of the story of his dominance last night, as he also started 66.7% of his shifts in the defensive zone, and he also produced the highlight of the night:
Markov also needs to be talked about, and I don't even know where to start with him. A three point night, completely dominant in every zone, played the final 3 full minutes of the game, Andrei Markov is doing everything. Playing with Subban has completely rejuvenated the general, and you can see it in his game.
The onus is no longer on just Markov to move the puck or clear the zone, like it used to be when he was paired with guys like Komisarek and O'Byrne. If he doesn't have a lane, he gives it to Subban. This means Markov can play near-mistake free hockey, relying on his wits and his partner, instead of forcing things. It's a fantastic experience to watch those two play together.
Also of note from last night's win was the amazing play of Ryan White, who drew a penalty, winked at his victim, and played a fantastic game of hockey with Michael Bournival, Travis Moen, and Danny Briere. White has calmed down from last year, and he's slowly carved out a niche in Michel Therrien's lineup. It's taken White awhile to learn, but he's finally becoming exactly the kind of fourth liner that every team wants to have.
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