Recap – Sabres vs Canadiens: Giving Away Two Points

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(Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)
Game 50, Home Game 26 | Tuesday February 3, 2015
Bell Centre, Montreal, QC.

CANADIENS
Montreal

teamlogo_canadiens

2-3

SABRES
Buffalo

(Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)
Lineup scratches: Michael Bournival, Mike Weaver, Manny Malhotra

Game Notes:

Unrest.  Habs fans are angry and they have every right to be. The Canadiens were facing the Sabres who were on a 14-game losing streak, a record for the franchise.   Put that in context, the NHL record for consecutive losses in the 97-year history of the league is 17.  So the Sabres are a terrible team.

Futility. Buffalo has not won a road game since November 29th, and that was a 4-3 win at the Bell Centre. With the loss, the Canadiens fail to beat the worst team in the NHL in regulation time this season.  The Sabres are 3-0-1 taking seven points in the season series.  Could the Canadiens have had a hand in the Sabres missing out on drafting Connor McDavid?

Over early. The game was over in the first period.  The Sabres, who are last in the league in goals per game, scored three times in the opening 20 minutes. The Canadiens hung Carey Price out to dry.  Brutal defensive play, particularly by P.K. Subban and Nathan Beaulieu, led to Sabres goals.

“Defense – Defense. “In the second period, Buffalo just clogged up the neutral zone.  And in the third, they didn’t even pretend to have an offensive game.  They stacked bodies like cord wood in front of  Jhonas Enroth and blocked a ton of shots.  It should also be noted that Jhonas Enroth is no Vezina-caliber goalie.  In fact, setting aside the team he plays for, Enroth would be considered well below average.

Grade the coach. After the game, coach Michel Therrien crowed several times about the 90+ shot attempts made by his team.  It wasn’t anything to be proud about with the Sabres pitching a tent in front of their own goal for the final 20 minutes.

Therrien must be questioned for putting together a third line that included a player in his NHL debut without the benefit of a practice.  The line of Lars Eller,  Jiri Sekac and Jacob De La Rose played very well as the game went along. They are each big bodies who are excellent skaters possessing a great deal of puck skill.  But they admitted communication was an issue in the first period that led to coverage lapses.  Shame on RDS for trying to refocus attention away from the coach. They only look foolish each and every time.

All of this happened just over 48 hours removed from an embarrassing loss to the Arizona Coyotes, the 28th-placed team in the league.  One would have thought that Therrien would have had his team come out flying at home with Sunday’s sour taste still so fresh.  But for the umpteenth time this season, the Canadiens looked ill-prepared to begin the first period.

Isn’t it okay to lose? But out there somewhere is the lunatic fringe saying, “Isn’t it better to lose to two non-playoff teams?” Ask Carey Price that question. His frustration with his team’s first period was evident.  For a rare time this season, Price chose not to speak to the media after the game.  Losing the way they did, with a pathetic effort nullifies all the blood and sweat it took to come up with two shutouts against the Capitals and Rangers.

Where’s the added value? Any player, in any sport will tell you that it doesn’t take much to get up for a big game.  No inspiring words from the coach are required. Top teams facing bottom feeders are a completely different story.  A coach needs to be there to ground his team, provide focus and to be sure that they are ready, especially when facing a desperate team.  You know, a team that is on the verge of entering the record book for futility? So what does that say about Therrien’s contribution, if he wasn’t required for the games against New York and Washington and failed to adequately prepare his team for the Arizona and Buffalo games?

Plus / Minus

▼    P.K. Subban, Max Pacioretty, Nathan Beaulieu, Michel Therrien

 Statistics
CANADIENS SABRES
34 Shots 18
0 for 2 Power Play 0 for 1
55% Face-offs 45%
2 Penalty Mins 4
36 Hits 23
57 Fenwick For 26
92 Corsi For 40
 Scoring
 FINAL 1 2 3 OT SO T
 Canadiens  (32-15-3) 1 0 1 2
 Sabres (15-33-3) 3 0 0 3
Scorers Goalies
  • MTL:  Prust (4), Desharnais (8)
  • BUF:  Stafford (8),  Moulson (8), Gionta (5)
  • MTL: Price (L) 27-11-2
  • BUF: Enroth (W) 12-19-2
 NHL Three Stars
NHL3stars
  1.  Jhonas Enroth  BUF
  2.  David Desharnais  MTL
  3.  Brian Gionta  BUF

 Video Highlights

 Post-game Press Conference
Coach Michel Therrien
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  • “We had a good enough effort tonight, the result just wasn’t there.

Max Pacioretty

  • “There’s peaks and valleys to the season. I’ve kind of gotten to realize that’s how it goes. You obviously want to work as hard as you can to dig yourselves out of it and dig the team out of it. As the years go on you realize these things happen, and the only way to get out of it is staying positive and working hard. We did that in the third; we have to do it from puck drop next game and do it for 60 minutes.”

Lars Eller

  • “I think we lost the game in the first period. Yes, a bad bounce here and there, but overall it’s small mistakes that could have been avoided with better communication a couple of times. Small things that us players know in between ourselves but maybe aren’t visible from above. Fixable. Details. Important. Make a difference.”
  • “The bottom line is that most of the time we’ve found ways to win games even though we haven’t been scoring a lot. We have the personnel to score goals and we’ve done it in the past. We can’t dig ourselves a hole here. The good thing is we’ve done it before so we can do it again. We just have to look forward; learn from the past, but look forward.”

Sabres forward Drew Stafford

  • “I’m going to be completely honest with you, in here, none of us really care about Carey Price’s shutout streak. We had more important things on our mind, which was trying to get our first win in about a month and a half.  We weren’t like, ‘Hey, let’s score the first goal so we can end their shutout streak.’ No, it was more like, ‘Let’s score the first goal because we want to win a frickin’ hockey game finally.’”

Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth

  • “It’s great, especially that we didn’t get the NHL record there, 17 [team losses] in a row. We had heard about it and we definitely didn’t want to get that. We just tried to stay positive and everyone in there believed we could beat this team. We’d beaten this team twice before this year. It was great to have that belief in our mind.”

Sabres head coach Ted Nolan

  • “A vast majority of the time, these guys have been giving us what they have to give. Sometimes, we’re getting out-skilled on certain nights and getting out-experienced on certain nights, but the effort for the vast majority of the game has been there. To see them win tonight, it was great to see.”
  • “The big thing with our team is having depth. We haven’t got certain guys who can go out and get big goals for us. We have to get them by committee. And since Gionta got back [from injury on Jan. 27], the whole atmosphere on the bench has started to change. We’re starting to feel comfortable again. We’re not going to be the most skilled, fluid team on most nights, but the one thing you can expect is a good effort.”
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