Season Outlook: Buffalo Sabres vs. Montreal Canadiens

Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

After facing each other five times last season, the Buffalo Sabres and Montreal Canadiens will meet four times in the upcoming 2013-2014 season. The additions of Daniel Briere and George Parros, along with the continued development of Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher, could prove to be factors in the Habs’ games against Buffalo this season.

Even in the lockout-shortened season, the Sabres and Canadiens saw quite a lot of each other, facing off five times. Buffalo took three of the games, all one-goal victories. The games that Montreal won, however, they won big-time: by deficits of four or five goals, including a 5-1 win that clinched a playoff spot for the Quebec team.

The first game, a February 2 meeting in Montreal, ended in a 6-1 victory for the Canadiens. Rene Bourque and David Desharnais had a pair of goals each, and Alex Galchenyuk had a pair of assists, to lead the Habs to victory. The lone Sabres goal came shorthanded from Thomas Vanek.

Next up was a meeting in Buffalo just five days later. This time, things were more balanced: Tomas Plekanec gave Montreal and early lead, but Steve Ott tied things just fifteen seconds later. In the second period, Brendan Gallagher made it 2-1 Habs just over 30 seconds before Tyler Ennis tied it up again. P.K. Subban scored late in the third to give Montreal another lead, and Plekanec scored his second of the game to give the team the first two-goal lead of the night. Thomas Vanek would go on to score a pair of goals, including one with 1.9 seconds remaining in regulation, to tie things up and force overtime. The game eventually went to a shootout, which resulted in a Sabres win.

Next up was a March 19th meeting in Montreal. Steve Ott and Tyler Ennis gave the Sabres a 2-0 lead in the first period, but the team dropped the lead and allowed the Habs to tie it up in the third period with goals from Pacioretty and Armstrong. Fortunately, Steve Ott scored a powerplay goal in overtime to eventually capture the win for the Sabres.

Four days later would come another Sabres win over the Canadiens. Thomas Vanek scored a pair of goals, and Ryan Miller had 38 saves, as Buffalo defeated Montreal by a score of 2-1. Michael Ryder had the lone goal for the Habs in the loss.

The final meeting of the teams was an April 11 game that ended in a 5-1 Canadiens victory, and the clinching of a playoff berth for the Habs. Rene Bourque, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban all scored for Montreal. Brian Flynn had the lone goal for Buffalo, and the Sabres put up just 15 shots in the game. (Compare that to Montreal’s 42, split over Jhonas Enroth and Ryan Miller…. um, ouch.)

The lone significant NHL trade that the Canadiens made this offseason was acquiring tough guy forward George Parros from the Florida Panthers, sending Phillipe Lefevbre and a draft pick the other way. Parros will bring size to the team and will certainly bring grit against the Sabres. The Habs also picked up former Rochester Americans forward Nick Tarnasky, lost Yannick Weber and Michael Ryder and of course, infamously signed former Buffalo Sabres forward Daniel Briere.

Take into account also the development of young players such as “The Gallys.” Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk will both be entering their sophomore NHL seasons and will look to build on what they did last season. Gallagher, who played in the AHL prior to the end of the NHL lockout, ended the season with 15 goals – tied for the team lead – and 13 assists for 28 points in 44 games. He also had 33 penalty minutes and was a plus-10. Galchenyuk, who played in the OHL prior to the lockout, ended the NHL regular season with nine goals and 18 assists for 27 points and a plus-14 in 48 games. Add to that two and three playoff points, respectively, and you’ve got a pair of young players who are somewhat well-known but will look to put up decent sophomore campaigns in their first full-length NHL seasons this fall.

Players to Watch:

  • MONTREAL: You’ve got to watch out for Brendan Gallagher, who had four points (3-1) in five games against the Sabres last season. The only other team he had that many points against was Toronto, and while everyone will be quick to notice his height, it’s his feisty attitude that should be noticed. He certainly isn’t afraid to drop the gloves. Also watch out for Alex Galchenyuk, who had four points in five games against Buffalo last year. And of course, Daniel Briere, who has 15 points in 22 career games against the Sabres.
  • BUFFALO: Tyler Ennis has 11 points (6-5) in 17 career games against the Canadiens. Steve Ott has eight points in 12 career games against Montreal, and Thomas Vanek has 38 career points against Montreal (in 52 games played).

Meetings This Season:

  • November 27 @ BUF
  • December 7 @ MTL
  • March 16 @ BUF
  • March 25 @ MTL

Topics: Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens

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