The Montreal Canadiens headed off to Buffalo to take on the Sabres. With only 12 games left in the season, and no post-season to look forward to, there wasn't much on the line for either team, but it seemed someone forgot to tell them that.
1. We are getting healthier!
Nathan Beaulieu and Lars Eller returned to the lineup, the former forcing Darren Dietz down to St. John's. This certainly helps on the blue line, which has been suffering throughout the year, but perhaps even more so now without P.K. Subban to hold it together.
2. The Montreal IceCaps
Tonight's lineup featured eight players who started the season in St. John's. Clearly, the call-ups have been a necessity, but it's been fun to watch the youngsters. A few have definitely impressed so far, and with a few Habs regulars going to be on the IR for a while longer, I'm going to enjoy watching the younger guys get this opportunity to prove their worth.
3. And 'the kids are going to play'
But not tonight, because Mike Brown was kept in the lineup while Stefan Matteau was a healthy scratch. The kids have had a lot to prove, and have done a pretty good job of doing so. Their creativity and speed has been a welcome addition to an injury-ravaged team.
4. Speaking of injuries...
Mark Barberio suffered an injury during the second period and the Canadiens announced he would not return.
5. Alex Galchenyuk
It shouldn't, but it really bothers me that Galchenyuk wasn't named a star of the week. I know, I know, it means nothing. But the guy has, without a doubt, been our top offensive player for weeks now. Since February 17th, Galchenyuk has 12 goals and five two-goal games. The guy is an absolute stud. On top of this, he wasn't named to the U-24 team. I just don't get it.
6. Slow starts once again
In regular Montreal fashion, the Canadiens looked totally lost during the first period; hemmed in their own zone, turnovers that led to scoring chances, passes to nowhere. Were some of the rookies in over their heads? Maybe a tiny bit. Should they still be prepared to deal with NHL situations? Yep.
Call me crazy, but I believe that a development staff should do just that: develop young players so they are ready to deal with NHL situations. I understand that this is a special circumstance, and that the numerous injuries to the Canadiens' regular lineup has led to an unusual number of call-ups this year, but if you sincerely believe that our young athletes are being developed to the best of their abilities in the AHL, please look back at our record over the past few years.
7. Greg Pateryn scores his first NHL goal!
I am a fan of Greg Pateryn. If you aren't, just move on to number eight. The beautiful bearded man scored his first career NHL goal and it was an absolute bomb of a shot. He spent the majority of the start of the season in the press box, patiently waiting for his seasonal debut. Without complaint, without compromising his physical readiness, Pateryn made that debut in mid-November and he has been a solid addition to the blue line.
An additional highlight of the goal was when Galchenyuk made sure to grab the puck so Pateryn had it for a keepsake. This screams leader material to me.
8. Fight, fight, fight
I don't know when it happened, but the Buffalo Sabres and the Montreal Canadiens really don't like one another. The first period had some scuffles. The second period was a little more intense.
Towards the end of the period, Eller came in on net and a few Sabres players got in his face, protecting Robin Lehner. Tomas Plekanec and Michael McCarron came in to defend Eller. Lehner gave Plekanec a nice little face wash, then grabbed McCarron and dragged him to the ice. Well, that was just plain silly. McCarron has no qualms in grabbing Lehner's mask and giving him a taste of his own medicine. Ben Scrivens even wanted to get in on the action, but stayed behind the centre line. The truth is, neither team really has anything to lose here so hey, get that frustration out of your systems, I guess.
9. Scrivens wasn't always pretty
But he got the job done. About mid-way through the third period, he gave the puck away, but managed to get back into position in time to make a save. He then made some absolutely mesmerizing stops, and this basically sums up his evening.
10. Eleven left
The Habs held on and won it in overtime. With only 11 games left in the season, may as well enjoy it as best you can.