The Canadiens (4-2-0) are home at the Bell Centre to face the Sabres (3-3-1) for the first of two weekend matinees. The game is set to start at 2:00 and can be seen on CBC and RDS. This is the first of five meetings between the Habs and Sabres this season. Last year the Canadiens went 1-3-2 against Buffalo, winning their only game 4-3 in a shootout. Scott Gomez broke his yearlong goal drought in that victory.
What to Watch:
It’s not clear whether or not PK Subban will rejoin the Canadiens lineup Saturday, but if he does you can bet all eyes will be on him. One thing Canadiens won’t see if the Habs win is Subban’s and Carey Price’s patented Triple Low 5 celebration, Michel Therrien has banned the celebration opting instead for celebrations that the whole team can partake in. That said, what you will see if the Canadiens win is what we’ve seen already this year, a salute to the fans from the whole team.
The Canadiens will need to keep a watchful eye on Buffalo’s leading scorers Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville. Vanek has 6 goals and 9 assists in just 6 games played including a hat-trick and two assists Thursday against the Bruins. Pominville isn’t doing too bad either with 5 goals and 7 assists through 7 games.
What’s at Stake:
The Habs lost just their second game of the season Wednesday night in Ottawa, but that means they still have yet to beat a division rival. A win against the Sabres on Saturday will help provide a bit of breathing room in the playoff battle, a loss could send them right to the bottom of the Northeast Division.
Still no official word yet on whether PK Subban will be in the lineup Saturday, but chances are he’ll be there which could mean Tomas Kaberle will be the odd man out on the Habs’ blue line. Max Pacioretty is recovering nicely from surgery and has already participated in a full practice, just 6 days after an appendectomy!
Cody McCormick (finger) and Ville Leino (hip) are long-term injuries for the Sabres. Patrick Kaleta (neck) will also likely miss Saturday’s game, as will Robyn Regher (lower body).
The Canadiens are expecting big contributions from their young stars. Carey Price, PK Subban, Max Pacioretty, Ryan White, Brendan Gallagher, Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk are all 25 years or younger (Price is the oldest of the bunch at 25). But as young as these players only Galchenyuk has the distinction of being the only member of the Canadiens not to have been alive for any of their Stanley Cup victories since the franchise won its first Stanley Cup in 1916. Of course, Habs fans are hoping he’ll help to correct that fact in the near future.
Be sure to tune into the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show an hour before the puck drop and the Post Game Show 5 minutes after the final siren.
Saturday, February 2, 2013