1. It was all about zone entries early on.
I was noticing how the Habs were having a hard time entering the offensive zone. The Sabres were rocking a hard trap. They had 4 skaters in between their blue and red line, and that made it really difficult for the Habs to get clean zone entries.
On the Andrighetto goal, there was a neutral zone gap because Ryan O'Reilly went off for a change and Max Pacioretty was able to capitalize off a turnover to gain the zone quickly. O'Reilly left Andrighetto wide open who absolutely blasted the puck into oblivion.
Michel Therrien has complimented the young forward by calling him creative when he is on his game. This is pretty apt and we all know the Everest that is earning Michel Therrien's trust. Hopefully this earns Andrighetto some more ice time.
2. Alexei Emelin was awful.
I don't know where his head was last night. It looked like he felt that he was doing the Habs a favour by showing up. Lazy skating, poor positioning, listless passes and plays. He was a disaster, especially on David Legwand's goal. I have no no idea what he was trying to do, or who he was trying to cover.
The pass? The dump in? He was an amoeba in no-man's land and he let Legwand walk right in for the tally. That kind of play would get a young player benched, but because Emelin happened to be born sooner than some other players he gets the trust, the ice time, and the ability to get the Habs a better draft pick.
3. They looked disinterested as they fell behind.
By the second period it looked like the Habs were clocked out. Not exactly what you should see from a team that wants to make the playoffs. I don't know what the morale is like on the bench, but when they were losing it looked like they thought the game was over. It wasn't yet.
4. Alex Galchenyuk tried that one-timer at least 35 times.
The Habs did a good job at moving the puck around and scattering the Sabres on the power play. That is where Galchenyuk needs to be locked in when the Habs have the man-advantage. We've seen him score from there before. He has the power and the accuracy to get a one-timer in from that range.
If teams are going to respect PK, then they are going to be leaving a player open. That player should be Galchenyuk (or Pacioretty) and the Habs should be building their power play strategy around that theory.
I thought Galchenyuk would get benched when he caused the penalty shot, but Therrien threw him out there and he scored from the exact place as he notched his first. It was a huge goal.
5. They came back when everyone expected them to ride out the loss.
As bad as the Habs looked when they allowed 4 straight goals, they showed something by making the game interesting. A power play marker, and an opportunistic goal got the Habs right back into the game. It's why you play 60 minutes. I just don't know why they missed the beginning of the second period.
They didn't just do it once either. When the Sabres went up 5-3 I thought it was over. I was kind of wrong.
6. They need to get Sven Andrighetto and Pacioretty a real centre.
Andrighetto set up David Desharnais with a gimme for the game tying goal, but Desharnais was too slow to realize it and couldn't capitalize. It was incredibly frustrating to watch, and I'm sure even more so for Andrighetto. I praised Desharnais for having a good game earlier in the week but I just didn't see it last night.
Lars Eller in that role would absolutely destroy defenders. There was actually a sequence in the middle of the second where Eller was late to change and spent a half shift with Andrighetto and Pacioretty. They generated a transition chance instantly. Imagine that.
7. Ben Scrivens got no help.
He was mercy pulled. His team gave him absolutely nothing to work with and didn't help Mike Condon much either. Carey Price would make some of those saves but when a team allows that many high danger scoring chances even the best goalie in earth would have a hard time.
8. The Habs aren't going to make the playoffs if they allow 5 goals to teams like the Buffalo Sabres.
I'm sorry, it's not happening if they're going to throw winnable games in the garbage. You can't let the Sabres (or any team) score five goals the way they did. That can't happen. There is no excuse. The Sabres were simply allowed to score those goals from right in front of the net, they were presents. The Habs scored four goals, which should be enough for a win. When your team lets up five against a bottom feeder team then you know something is wrong.
9. The Sabres were badly outplayed but took advantage of the Habs' mistakes.
Emelin's poor positioning and Andrei Markov's casual chip led to goals that should never have happened. That Markov play is something we're getting used to seeing lately. He tried to get it over the forechecker but it was a soft play that was met with a hard effort and the Habs paid for it.
Buffalo's third goal was no exception. A goal that should never have happened. Four defenders watching the puck while the Sabres just did what they wanted.
10. The loss matters.
They are right in the middle of "top pick" and "playoff race" territory. Ideally, you'd like them to be closer to either end of the spectrum. Unfortunately, this is their reality.