Game Preview: Sabres vs Canadiens (Game 7)
MONTREAL, QC – The Canadiens head into Saturday afternoon’s tilt having lost in a pretty bad way in Ottawa on Wednesday night. While many will rightfully blame the team’s lack of discipline for
the loss, we could also attribute it to a tired looking squad, and an extremely hot goaltender on the other side. Either way with that game now behind them, the Canadiens look to their next opponent, the Buffalo Sabres.
Fresh off a big win in Boston that saw them crush the Bruins 7-4 on Thursday night, the Sabres enter this matchup on a high note. However, with that being their only win in the last 5 games, they will surely look to keep the momentum going against the Canadiens in an important divisional matchup. The Sabres hope to keep the offense rolling and are counting on star netminder Ryan Miller to deliver a stronger performance between the pipes.
Meanwhile in Montreal, the Habs will most likely welcome a familiar face in this matchup as P. K. Subban is expected to make his long awaited 2013 debut. Head Coach Michel Therrien would not confirm, though a popular Therrien Twitter Parody account did have this to say.
PK Will play tomorrow. He will do everything I say. No Excuses. He skate too much in circles he sits. He shoot too much he sits. #MyTeam
— Michel Therrien (@CoachTherrien76) February 1, 2013
We should find out soon if PK will indeed be playing, however most reports from Friday’s practice point to Subban finally making his debut.
Habs keys for the game :
- Power Play : Habs continue to boast one of the league’s top PP units and will look to capitalize early on any opportunities they have.
- Goaltending : After losing to the Sens with backup goalie Peter Budaj in net, the Canadiens will look for Carey Price to get them back on the right track. Expect Price to play both games on the weekend.
- Integrating P.K. Subban : This is expected to be PK’s first game back in the Habs lineup. It will be interesting to see how Heach Coach Michel Therrien decides to use the 23 year old defensemen especially on the PP where Markov and Diaz have been so successful. Subban figures to log close to 20 minutes with 2nd unit PP time in his first contest.
Sabres keys for the game :
- Establish Physical Presence : Part of the reason the Sabres were so successful on Thursday night vs the Bruins, was a big win by enforcer John Scott over Bruins Shawn Thornton. The bout seemed to change the pace of the game as the Sabres established a ton of momentum from that point on.
- Goaltending : Ryan Miller has been less than spectacular this season, but with his track record it figures to turn around soon. Miller has been one of the league’s most consistent goalies for several years, and the Sabres will need him to come up big in this one.
- The Top Line : Other than the first line of the San Jose Sharks, there is no hotter trio in the league right now then the Sabres #1 unit. Vanek, Pominville and Hodgson combined for 11 points against the Bruins Thursday night. Their success will be a key factor in their tilt with the Canadiens on Saturday.
Head to Head Record (last 6 games)
The Sabres currently hold the edge in the head to head series against the Canadiens having won 5 of the last 6 contests between the 2 teams.
By The Numbers
|Power Play %||24.0% (11th)||27.3% (7th)|
|Penalty Kill %||82.8% (12th)||78.1% (19th)|
|Goals For P/G
||3.29 (7th)||3.00 (12th)|
|Goals Against P/G
||3.29 (24th)||2.50 (10th)|
|Points Leader||Vanek : 15pts||Markov/Diaz : 8pts|
|Standings||9th (East)||6th (East)|
|Who’s Hot||Vanek, Pominville, Hodgson||Markov, Diaz, Plekanec|
|Who’s Not||Stafford, Myers||Eller, Desharnais, White|
- Patrick Kaleta – Neck – Day to Day
- Robyn Regehr - Lower Body – Day to Day
- Ville Leino – Lower Body – IR
- Petteri Nokelainen – Shoulder – IR
- Max Pacioretty – Appendectomy – IR
Watch for GameDay for Sabres and Habs lineups.
From a fantasy perspective, here are some players from each side that could help you in this matchup.
- PK Subban (Montreal Canadiens): Expected to play his first game and will want to come out flying. Likes to shoot.
- Andrei Markov (Montreal Canadiens): Continues to lead all NHL D-man with 8 PP Points.
- Thomas Plekanec (Montreal Canadiens): Leads all Canadiens forwards with 4 goals on the season.
- Thomas Vanek (Buffalo Sabres): Top scorer in the NHL with 15 points. Coming off a 5 point game.
- Jason Pominville (Buffalo Sabres): 4th in league scoring with 12 points. Has multiple pts in 4 of 7 games.
The Montreal Canadiens win 5-3
Santino writes for All Habs.net as a Fantasy Analyst. For more information Follow him on Twitter.