The first of six meetings between the Buffalo Sabres and Montreal Canadiens takes place this evening at the Bell Centre.
While Buffalo’s record in Montreal isn’t horrendous – 5-4-1 in their last ten games – the Bell Centre has always been building I haven’t been fond of when the Sabres have to go and visit. Montreal took the season series on points (3-1-2) but the teams split the victories evenly in 2010-11, with the home team winning only twice in six attempts.
Buffalo has had a couple of days off prior to heading up north and managed to rebound nicely with a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. Jhonas Enroth isn’t likely to start this evening, but has been promised time on this current four-game road trip. I would expect to see him no later than Saturday’s contest in Tampa.
I also suspect that Marc-Andre Gragnani will have one last chance to redeem himself after two poor outings last weekend. Despite what he offers to the power play, Gragnani has been a train wreck in his own zone and it may mean the defensive-minded Mike Weber gets a look in Grgagnani’s stead.
Montreal will be desperate for a win after suffering a pair of tough losses in which they allowed nine goals in the two contests. Montreal’s only victories this season came via 5-1 drubbings of both the Lightning and Jets, two teams that have combined for two victories.
Carey Price has played in every game but has not shown the prowess that put him among the Vezina candidates last year in Vegas. Tomas Plekanec (a perennial Sabre killer) leads the Habs, along with Max Pacioretty, with four points (2+2) on the year. Montreal has suffered from an early injury bug along with some under performing players.
If there is such thing as a trap game for the Sabres, this would certainly be it.
Carey Price vs. Ryan Miller. Price has yet to see the bench for the Habs and isn’t likely to get a reprieve any time soon as Peter Budaj may just be the worst back up in the NHL. While he is in somewhat of a funk right now, Price always gets up for games against Miller and the Sabres. I don’t doubt that today will be any different. The same goes for Miller. He is 19-8-5 for his career against Montreal. He only holds a better record over Boston and Toronto.
BUF: Ryan Miller 3GP, 2-1-0, 2.35 GAA, .928 SV%
MTL: Carey Price 4 GP, 1-2-1, 2.96 GAA, .880 SV%
2010-11 Season Series BUF 3-3-0