Forward lines and defense pairings
Tatar – Danault – Gallagher
Drouin – Domi – Lehkonen
Byron – Kotkaniemi – Armia
Deslauriers – Peca – Shaw
Benn – Petry
Reilly – Juulsen
Ouellet – Mete
Alzner, Scherbak, Hudon
Weber, Schlemko, Plekanec
A disturbing trend is emerging the past three games. The Canadiens start strong and fade. Tonight they faded even more quickly than the previous two.
These are not your pre-Dahlin Sabres. Buffalo outworked the Habs winning battles all over the ice. Credit can go to Sabres head coach Phil Housley who has transformed the way this team plays, just over a year into his tenure. GM Jason Botterill has also injected a talent upgrade by drafting Rasmus Dahlin and adding Conor Sheary and Jeff Skinner.
Expect some growing pains as the Sabres try to climb their way out of last year’s basement. But tonight, Housley ensured that the Sabres outcompeted the Habs. Canadiens head coach Claude Julien said that his team looked tired by the end of the game as they spent too much time chasing the puck after losing battles.
But Julien should accept his portion of the loss for some of his lineup choices. In his three games since returning from injury, Nicolas Deslauriers has brought nothing to the lineup. The new look Habs have moved on and left Deslauriers in the dust.
The other members of the fourth line have done nothing to earn their spots in the lineup. Matthew Peca has been invisible while Andrew Shaw has been noticeable for all of the wrong reasons.
Max Domi is having fun with the Canadiens. And he should be very appreciative that he has Artturi Lehkonen on his wing. Lehkonen continues to be one of the hardest players to line up against and does most of the heavy-lifting for his line.
▲ Artturi Lehkonen, Max Domi
▼ Nicolas Deslauriers, Andrew Shaw, Matthew Peca, Mete, Ouellet