The Buffalo Sabres travel to Montreal tonight to square off against the Northeast Division-rival Canadiens in the two teams first meeting of the season.
The Sabres have won their previous three matchups against the Canadiens by a combined score of 7-3 and will look to take advantage of a Montreal team that is off to one of its worst four-game starts in franchise history (1-2-1).
Not all of the Montreal’s woes so far this season have been due to poor play. The Canadiens have suffered an abundance of injuries that have hampered this club and will be without forward Mike Cammalleri (lacerated leg) and defensemen Jaroslav Spacek (upper-body injury) and Andrei Markov (right-knee) as they take on the Sabres.
Buffalo has managed to meet expectations to start their season aside from a 4-3 hiccup in the team’s home-opener last Friday to the Hurricanes.
In the Sabres’ last game on Saturday, the team managed to squeak out a hard-fought, 3-2 win in Pittsburgh over the Malkin and Crosby-less Penguins. Luke Adam contributed another two points (1G 1A) to continue his red-hot start to the ’11-’12 campaign and Jhonas Enroth relieved Ryan Miller, making 29 of 31 saves to preserve the Sabres’ third win of the season.
Tonight, Ryan Miller will return between the pipes and look to continue his solid start in net after posting a 2.35 GAA and .928 SV% in his first three games. Last season against the Canadiens Miller went 2-2 with a 1.50 GAA and is an impeccable 19-8 versus the Habs throughout his career.
Also returning to practice on Monday were forwards Jochen Hecht who had been nursing a head injury after colliding with Shaone Morrisonn during the preseason.
It is unclear whether or not Lindy Ruff will find a way to incorporate the veteran Hecht into the lineup but if he does, it will likely be at the expense of Patrick Kaleta or Cody McCormick as Adam has shown he deserves a spot in the lineup at least for the time being.
Paul Hamilton of WGR 550 also reported on Monday that Derek Roy had been favoring his right leg in practice but said it was “something minor” and has nothing to do with the quad injury that ended his season a year ago.
All-in-all, this game is as important as early-season games come. It’s always nice to get off to a good start against a division opponent, especially when that team is struggling like the Canadiens are.
The puck is set to drop at 7:30 PM from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec. The game will also be broadcast live on MSG.