The Buffalo Sabres 2023-24 season continues today vs. the Montreal Canadiens in what is their first homestand finale of the year.
Coming off of a convincing win vs. the New York Islanders, the Buffalo Sabres have a chance to string together their first back-to-back victories of the season. That opportunity is more golden when you realize their opponent for tonight is a rebuilding Montreal Canadiens team, but the Habs won’t be as easy of an adversary as you may think.
Montreal has played an excellent 5-on-5 game, evidenced by their 0.974 save percentage and 107.6 PDO. However, as with the Islanders, they aren’t as strong on the penalty kill, ranking in the middle of the league with a rate of 79.17. But with the Sabres power play continuing to struggle even against stagnant units like the Islanders, the Blue and Gold may need to once again bring their A-Game in a 5-on-5 setting.
Also at 5-on-5, Montreal is shooting at 10.2 percent, so if the Sabres play defense the same way they did vs. Calgary, they’re in trouble. However, Buffalo also showed they’re capable of playing sound defense, so this game may come down to whichever Sabres team decides to show up tonight.
Sabres may ultimately take advantage of the Canadiens inconsistencies
While the Canadiens have shot at 10.2 percent at 5-on-5, it’s also appropriate to mention that they haven’t been super hot offensively since they scored five goals in their season-opening loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. In all situations, they are only shooting at roughly 8.6 percent in their previous three contests, so if the Sabres can build on the momentum they accumulated in Saturday’s win, they can string together back-to-back W’s.
So far, the Habs have a pair of three-goal scorers in Cole Caufield and Alex Newhook. Caufield is especially one to watch for, as his five points in four games put him on pace to enjoy a remarkable season if he stays healthy. Nick Suzuki leads the team in assists with three, while blueliners Kaiden Guhle and Johnathan Kovacevic pace the Habs in plus/minus at plus-4.
Goaltenders Jake Allen and Sam Montembeault have respective save percentages of 0.907 and 0.892, with their GAAs sitting at 3.34 and 3.55. The puck drops tonight at 7 p.m., and it will be the Buffalo Sabres final home game before they embark on their first road trip of the year.
(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)