The Habs and Sabres meet in Buffalo tonight for round 5 of 8. The Sabres hold a 3-1 advantage in wins with 3 games being decided by extra time or a shoot out.
These are both very good teams who match up very well against each other. Win or lose you appreciate the battle that takes place every time they meet.
The Habs have been better than the Sabres recently, 3 straight victories, #1 Powerplay, #2 Penalty Kill and the Sabres are finally showing some intermittent weakness.
Still the Habs fail to get noticed much outside of Quebec.
Newsflash: The Canadiens are a good team.
Is tonight the game where more people start to realize?
If they lose to the Sabres tonight, they are still a good team. Good teams still lose.
But beat them and they are 5 points shy of the Conference lead. And the Mighty Sabres fall to .500 for December and lose two consecutive games to Northeast Rivals.
What is making the Canadiens so good lately? Special Teams.
The Powerplay is on fire. In today’s game a good powerplay wins you games. A good penalty kill in addition to that is even better. The Canadiens flirt with disaster every game by taking more penalties than their opponent but almost always save themselves.
With Carbonneau running the show don’t look for this to change. It’s not a fluke. Habs fans finally have something to cheer and brag about, when was the last time the Habs powerplay was #1 in the league?
Today it’s Andrei Markov feathering flip passes to Sheldon Souray for the one time blast, but it wasn’t too long ago that it was Dave Manson’s shot that was supposed to be feared and Peter Popovic doing the touch passing.
And a lot of people can’t seem to forget those past awful Habs teams of the late 90s and early 2000’s.
I read something recently that suggested the Habs were desperately struggling to hold on to a playoff spot. It’s not April yet but with the 5th best record in the league, I think there are quite a few more teams more worried.
The least of them the Sabres and Habs, who should put on another great show tonight.