After a shellacking at the hands of the Boston Bruins on Saturday, the Buffalo Sabres (10-6-0) travel to north to face the Montreal Canadiens (7-7-2) on Monday night. Due the concussion suffered by Ryan Miller, Jhonas Enroth will get the start in goal for Buffalo. As usual, Carey Price will be between the pipes for the Canadiens.
For the Sabres, Jochen Hecht, Tyler Ennis and Ryan Miller are all out indefinitely. Andrei Kostitsyn and Hal Gill are listed as day-to-day for the Canadiens. Chris Campoli, Andrei Markov and Ryan White are all out indefinitely for Montreal.
This is a game that the Sabres need to use to make a statement. The Sabres got murdered by the defending champions and they lost their franchise goaltender for who knows how long in the process. Things like this can start a downward spiral very easily. It will be very important for the Sabres to come out and play solid hockey.
Leaning on Jhonas Enroth won’t be a problem. He had his worst performance of the season coming on in relief of Miller against the Bruins, but so far that performance looks like the outlier. But he is still a young player and putting him in an early hole on the road is far from an ideal situation. It’s a bit different when you are “The Guy” with no safety net behind you. Ryan Miller will be unavailable for the foreseeable future, so Enroth needs to prepare to start almost every game.
Much like the Bruins, the Canadiens are playing their best hockey as of late. They are 6-2 over their last eight games. They’ve won seven games on the year. I will trust you to do the math. They’ve been white hot lately. The Sabres are the statistically superior team, but you have to wonder how much of that is because of the slow start the Canadiens had to the season.
Buffalo will need to continue to bank on their special teams and the Vanek/Adam/Pominville line to make their bones. The Sabres actually average more shots on goal per game than the Canadiens (32-27) so there should be no excuse to get grossly out-shot again. The Canadiens don’t have a prolific offense, but they are one of the better defensive teams in the league.
The odds-makers continue to love the Sabres. Despite being on the road, after being blown out, without their star goaltender, the Sabres are still favored (-115) on Monday night. While that is a relatively small line, it just goes to show you what they guys who do this for a living think of the Sabres. And the Canadiens. To be an elite team, you need to win the games you are supposed to win.
The game will be televised nationally on Versus.
Date: Monday, November 14, 2011
Time: 7:00 ET
Location: Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec