Facing the Penguins, Blues, Bruins, and Rangers, the Canadiens were dealt a challenging hand. The results were mixed, with two impressive victories sandwiched between blowout losses.
This week, the schedule is a little easier, as Montreal gets a home and home with the league's worst team. Looking for four points, the Habs have made a couple of adjustments.
The putrid fourth line has been reinforced, as Drayson Bowman has been replaced by Eric Tangradi. Tangradi is a veteran of many fourth line minutes, and has acquitted himself well during his NHL career. Brandon Prust's promotion weakened the fourth unit, and whether Tangradi can change that remains to be soon. At the very least, his track record suggests he is a better candidate than Bowman to do so.
The other important adjustment comes in the form of Montreal's next solution for their still struggling powerplay, as Michel Therrien and Co. appear set to unleash four forwards on the first unit. The Habs practiced with a first wave of P.K. Subban, Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais, P.A. Parenteau, and Lars Eller. Their seven markers with the man advantage this year demonstrate an abysmal level of productivity, but the Habs have barely managed to even generate shot attempts. This new configuration is clearly designed to combat that.
How to Watch
Start time: 7:00 PM ET
In the Habs' region (English): Sportsnet East
In the Habs' region (French): RDS
In New York: MSG-B
Elsewhere: NHL GameCenter, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
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Know Your Enemy
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The Sabres are in a familiar place, occupying the basement of the East. But while Buffalo may have league's lowest win total, a recently snapped three game win streak pulled them into a tie for 28th place.
The first of those wins came at the expense of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Ted Nolan's boys followed up with wins over the San Jose Sharks and Washington Capitals. What was the recipe for their success? Against Toronto, it was an offensive explosion, in which Buffalo scored six goals from five different players to put down the Leafs. Of course, a strong performance from Michael Neuvirth didn't hurt, either.
After that, it was
Miller Jhonas Enroth time, as the Sabres's keeper manhandled both the Sharks and Caps to get his team two more wins. Allowing 74 shots over the two games, it's not as though Enroth's fine performance came amidst some team-wide renaissance.
The message is clear: any team in the NHL can win on any night. Coming off last week's four game gauntlet, the Habs would be wise not to take their opponents for granted.
Last Time Out
The last time the Canadiens met the Sabres, they ground out an ugly win on the heels of a blowout loss. Tonight, they'll look to achieve something similar.
It took a P.A. Parenteau goal off of a P.K. Subban rebound to break a significant Canadiens' goal drought, and when the Sabres quickly equalized, Parenteau's services were again required in the shootout.
Intentional or not, the Canadiens leveraged one of their best weapons when the former Norris Trophy winner put the puck on net. With four days to practice, and one of the league's worst penalty kills to beat, we'll find out if the Habs have found the formula to repeat their success.