Will it be the team we’ve seen for the better part of a 1-6-1 stretch, or will it be the one we saw open the season 2-0 in convincing fashion?
Whichever team comes to play tonight, it’s safe to say they’re playing a much different Montreal Canadiens team than the Eastern Conference doormat of last season. The Canadiens are 6-3-0 and are coming off a tough 2-1 loss to the Boston Bruins last night.
The Habs mopped up the Sabres 6-1 in their last meeting in what was easily the Sabres’ worst game of the year. After the Sabres’ huge win against Boston the Thursday before, the Canadiens out hustled a lethargic Sabres team that looked like they couldn’t be bothered to be at the Bell Centre that afternoon.
If the Sabres hope to come out on top tonight, they’ll have to take advantage of their fresher legs and pound the Canadiens’ slower defensive corps deep in their own zone. The Marcus Foligno – Tyler Ennis – Drew Stafford line did a good job of that last game against Ottawa, and will need to continue it tonight.
Ryan Miller will also need to snap his streak of four goal games. While the Sabres have not had many issues scoring, they cannot be forced to pot five or six goals a night to be victorious. Sometimes you need to win the 2-1 game. It’s not all on Miller for those four goal games however, as the defense – or lack thereof – is probably 75-percent culpable. The defensive zone will need to tighten up considerably and the breakouts will need to be crisper and quicker.
If the Sabres struggle in these areas tonight, the Habs will make them pay on the scoreboard as they did last week.