Forward lines and defense pairings
Pacioretty – Danault – Radulov
Byron – Plekanec – Gallagher
Galchenyuk – Shaw – Lehkonen
King – Mitchell – Flynn
Markov – Petry
Beaulieu – Emelin
Davidson – Nesterov
Shea Weber, Jordie Benn, Michael McCarron, Andreas Martinsen, Steve Ott, Al Montoya
‘It was a meaningless game, the Canadiens had nothing to play for.’
That was the consensus view following Montreal dropping a 2-1 decision to the Buffalo Sabres. Simply write off the remaining games and focus on the playoffs.
Now if you have a machine that is running on all cylinders, maybe that’s true. But the Canadiens have things to work on and areas to improve before the playoffs. And we certainly don’t want to see one loss become three so that the Habs sputter into the post-season.
The Washington Capitals have clinched the President’s trophy. Aren’t their games meaningless too? Yet the shutout the New York Rangers in Wednesday’s only other game.
And while some are so quick to point out that it was a meaningless game for the Canadiens, were was the motivation on the part of the Sabres?
Just before the game against the Canadiens Buffalo forward Ryan O’Reilly discussed the frustration on his team.
“We’re not a very good hockey team. We’ve let a lot of things go that we normally shouldn’t. It’s so frustrating coming to the rink right now. Practicing. There’s no purpose to it. I’m sick of losing. It’s getting exhausting and it’s not fun. It sucks the fun out of the game.”
Shouldn’t the Atlantic division champs have been able to take care of a team so demoralized?
The Montreal Canadiens are a different team without Shea Weber on the ice. To a lesser degree the Habs also missed Jordie Benn and Alexei Emelin for the rest of the game.
There wasn’t enough glue to hold together the remaining parts. It was a rough game for the D corps particularly Nathan Beaulieu and Nikita Nesterov.
Up front the Canadiens did everything they could to make Robin Lehner look good, including passing up opportunities to shoot the puck. They also did nothing to draw penalties.
The loss is not something to get too exercised about. But the game was a wasted chance to fine tune a few things prior to the playoffs. Just two more opportunities left.
▲ Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Markov, Alexander Radulov
▼ Nathan Beaulieu, Nikita Nesterov