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Canadiens vs Sabres Recap: Batoche Blues

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Habs game recap or history lesson? That's up to you to decide.

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Sabres were riding a 14-game losing streak, and were facing the second-best team in the Eastern Conference according to the current NHL standings. Easy win for the Canadiens, yes?

Not so fast.

The Sabres got off to a strong start, with Drew Stafford capitalizing on his own rebound to beat Carey Price.  The defensive coverage during the play was awful, as both defenders were caught behind the net, with Lars Eller in no-man's land. The newly formed Sekac-Eller-de la Rose line was off to a rough start.

Brandon Prust tied the game up a few minutes later, thanks to a big hit on Tyler Myers which jarred the puck loose. David Desharnais joined Prust for the rush, and sent a perfect pass to his winger who made no mistake, blasting the puck by Jhonas Enroth.

Unfortunately the tie wouldn't last. Matt Moulson took advantage of Montreal's lack of a decent defensive system, and pounced on a loose puck to give Buffalo a 2-1 lead. In the dying minutes of the period the Sabres managed to score another goal, this time by former Canadiens' captain Brian Gionta who fooled Price, thanks to a deflection.  The first period was over, and the Habs were clearly outplayed by a club that should probably be considered an expansion-team threat.

Michel Therrien most likely read the riot act during the intermission, seeing as how his team was performing like a posse of drunken circus clowns. Then again, you can't bust heads like you used to. Although there are ways.

One trick is to tell stories that don't go anywhere.

Like the time I caught the ferry to Batoche, Saskatchewan. I needed a new heel for m'shoe. So I decided to go to Fish Creek, which is what they called Batoche at the time. So, I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. It reminded me of a famous Canadian that went by the name of Gabriel Dumont. No, not the diminutive forward that plays for the Habs, but rather the Métis leader that was elected to the presidency of the short-lived republic of St.Laurent. He eventually settled into a leadership role among the Métis of the region. Everyone knows about Louis Riel, but they tend to forget about Dumont, who was the real hero in this circumstance. Dumont commanded the Métis forces in the NorthWest Rebellion against the government of Canada, and eventually found his way into Buffalo Bill's Wild West show.

Dumont was raised Métis, learning both French and Cree customs. Before he turned 12, he was considered an accomplished shooter with both a gun and a bow, as well as a master hunter and horseman. He became a Buffalo hunter, learned six languages and established a reputation as a grade-A badass. He was also known for his love of drinking and  gambling, although to be fair there wasn't much to do in Saskatchewan back in 1906. He established a ferry service near Batoche, where he farmed the land.

Even Dumont's enemies respected his military abilities, including General Frederik Middleton. He faced overwhelming odds, but was still managed to lead his troops to victory during the Battle of Fish Creek. Despite only holding 250 poorly-trained soldiers among his ranks, Dumont held off the Canadian forces (1000 men) for several days during the Battle of Batoche, resorting to hunting in the underbrush for bullets fired by Canadian troops. They fired nails, rocks, forks and knives in lieu of bullets.

Dumont could have stemmed the flow of Canadian troops if Riel had allowed him to perform strategic actions such as damaging railway lines, but alas he was not given permission. Riel had honour, but he lacked logic.

Eventually Dumont made his way to Montana, where he was picked up by the U.S. Cavalry. The American government determined that he was a political refugee, and he was granted amnesty. As one of the best shots in the land, Dumont was invited to join Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. He was eventually pardoned by the Canadian government in 1886, and he returned to lands he had settled in 1872. He died of natural causes in 1906, living out his last years as a farmer and a hunter. He dared to resist the government, he fought for basic rights, and lived to tell the tale.  A real Canadian hero.

The important part of this story is that Dumont wore an onion on his belt, which was the style at the time. He didn't have any of those fancy yellow onions either, because of the war. The only thing he could get was those big yellow ones ... oh crap. The hockey game.

Where were we? Oh yeah, Buffalo was beating Montreal 3-1, and the Habs had 40 minutes to turn things around.

They played better in the final half of the game, but Enroth held the fort, earning only his 12th win of the year. It didn't help that the Habs showed the accuracy of a recently graduated stormtrooper. They almost put 100 shots towards the Sabres net, but only 34 of them hit the target.

The Habs are back in action on Saturday against the New Jersey Devils. What will we cover in the recap? Possibly the life of William Stephenson, or maybe Joseph Montferrand. If the Habs decide to show up for more than one period maybe we'll bother with a full recap. Stay tuned.