Preview Game #75

Canadiens vs. Buffalo

March 23rd, 2018 – 7:05pm

Season Records – Buffalo 73GP (23-38-12) 58 pts. Last in the league. Canadiens 74GP (26-36-12) 64 points. 27th in the league.

Last Ten Games – Buffalo (4-5-1) Canadiens (1-7-2)

Home/Away – Buffalo at home (11-22-5) Canadiens on the road (9-24-4).

Lineup Changes

….Antti Niemi will be in goal for the Canadien vs. Linus Ullmark.


….Final of four meetings – Canadiens 3-0-0. @Buffalo Oct.5th (season opener) Canadiens-3 Buffalo-2 (shootout) Pacioretty, Danault & Drouin (shootout winner). Pominville 2 goals. @Bell Centre Nov. 11th Canadiens-2 Buffalo-1 (overtime). Shaw & Pacioretty (overtime winner). O’Reilly for Buffalo. @Bell Centre Nov. 25th Canadiens-3 Buffalo-0. Carey Price’s only shutout win of season 36 saves. Petry, Galchenyuk and Byron (SHG).

….This is the first of back-to-back games for both teams. The Canadiens face Washington at the Bell Centre Saturday night; Buffalo will play at the Rangers Saturday.

….Since Dec. 232nd the Sabres have had a better record than the Canadiens – Buffalo winning 14 of 37 games for 33 points; the Canadiens 10 of 39 for 28 points.

….This game pits the team with the worst home record in the league (Buffalo 11-22-5)) against the team with league”s worst road record ( Canadiens 9-24-4).

….The Canadiens and Sabres have met a total of 25 times since the 2012 lockout. The Canadiens have a 15-6-2 record against them.

….Seven of the last 15 meetings between the clubs were decided in overtime/shootout with the Canadiens winning four including two of the three meetings this season. Over the last eleven seasons, 17 of 49 Canadiens-Buffalo meetings have wound up in either overtime or shootout with Buffalo winning 11 of them.

….Over the last ten home games against the Canadiens the Sabres are 7-4-0.

….The road team has won ten of the last 16 games in the Buffalo/Montreal series.

….In the draft lottery race, Buffalo holds the worst record in the league and is first in the lottery with an 18.0% chance of securing the number one chance. By winning percentage the Canadiens are fourth in the lottery (ahead of Ottawa) and, if they finish there, they would have a 9.5% chance at number one, 9.5% at number two and 9.6 at number 3.

…..Antti Niemi has played in 7 games vs. Buffalo with a 2-3-1 record, 2.52GAA and .901 save%.

….Linus Ullmark will makes his first career start vs. the Canadiens.

….Vs. Buffalo Alex Galchenyuk has 9 goals and 17 points in 24 games; Brendan Gallagher 10 goals, 2 assists in 24 games. Paul Byron has 10 points in 14 games (5g, 5a) and Jonathan Drouin 0 goals, 8 assists in 14 games. He has 4 assists in his 3 games vs. Buffalo this season.

….Vs. the Canadiens Jack Eichel has 0 goals, 4 assists in 11 games; Ryan O’Reilly 15 points in 18 games (5g, 10a) and Jason Pominville has 15g, 23 assists in 59 games vs. Montreal.

About the Canadiens

….With the loss to Pittsburgh Wednesday the Canadiens fell to 18 points out of the final East wild-card berth and were officially eliminated with eight games remaining in their season.

….The Canadiens are on a four game losing streak. So far this season they have posted three 5-game losing streaks, one 6-game streak and a 7-game losing stretch.

….The Canadiens have won one of their last ten overall (1-7-2). Overall they have lost 17 of their last 21 (4-11-6) They have also lost 20 of their last 26 (6-14-6).

….Since December 23rd the Canadiens of lost 19 of 21 on the road. Overall since Dec. 23rd they are 9-21-8. The nine wins are fewest in the league over that stretch.

….The loss in Pittsburgh was their 36th in regulation time this season. Their single season record is 40 regulation losses (2000-2001). On the road the Canadiens have lost 24 games in regulation time, already worst in team history.

….The Canadiens rank 28th in the league in goals per game and 23rd in goals against per game. Their goal differential is minus-48. Only Arizona (minus-50), Ottawa (-51) and Buffalo (-66) are worse.

….No team in the league has given up more power play goals than the Canadiens (60). 44 of the 60 power play goals against have come on the road. Overall their penalty killing record is 74.7% – 66.7% on the road.

….The Canadiens have given up at least one power play goal in each of their last 11 road games (17/39) including two in each of the last three. That’s a 43.6% success rate for opponents.

…. Over their last 23 games on the road they shut down opponents power play only 3 times. Over that stretch (dating back to Dec. 19th) opponents have scored 28PPG on 78 advantages – meaning opponents have scored 35.9% of their opportunities against the Canadiens penalty killers. (In seven of the games the Canadiens gave up 2 or more PPG)

….On the road the Canadiens special teams differential this season is minus-25 (19PPG/44PPGA). Home and away it is minus-15 (45PPG/60PPGA). 60PPG against is most in the league.

….As a member of the Canadiens Antti Niemi has started 14 games with a 5-4-4 record, a 2.41GAA and .932 save%.

….Brendan Gallagher has 5 goals 4 assists his last 12 games. He has 21 points his last 27 games (10g, 11a). He needs two points to equal his career high of 47. His 26 goals are already a career high.

….Alex Galchenyuk has four assists his last five games and ten points his last 12 games (4g, 6a). With 44 points he is one point behind Gallagher for the team scoring lead.

….Jonathan Drouin has 5 goals, 6 assists his last 24 games.

….Mostly facing Sidney Crosby on Wednesday Drouin had his first negative faceoff night in six games. (9 of 21). Still, he has won 55.9% of his faceoffs over the last nine games (81 of 145).

….Their are now 8 members of the Canadiens out with injuries. With this game Canadiens man-games-lost will reach 325.

….The loss to Pittsburgh Wednesday guaranteed that March will be another losing month for the Canadiens, their 5th of the season’s six months to date. Their only winning month was November (8-5-2).

About the Sabres

….The Sabres have the league’s worst record one point behind Vancouver after 73 games. Last season they finished 26th in the league, Two seasons ago, 23rd and in 2014-15 – last again.

….The Sabres are last in the league in offense at 2.36GPG and they are 29th in goals allowed at 3.26 per game.

….The Sabres are coming off a 4-1 home ice loss to Arizona. However over their last 20 games they have a record of 9-9-2 (Canadiens are 4-10-6 over their last 20) In recent days the Sabres have posted wins over Tampa Bay, Boston, Toronto and Chicago and lost to Vegas in a shootout.

….Over the last five years the Sabres have drafted no lower than 8th overall. In 2013 they drafted defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen (8th); 2014 RW-Sam Reinhart (2nd); 2015 C-Jack Eichel (2nd); 2016 – RW-Alexander Nylander – Rochester/AHL (8th); 2017 C-Casey Mittelstadt – University of Minnesota (8th)

….Despite missing 15 games with a high-ankle sprain, Jack Eichel leads the Sabres with 54 points in 58 games (22g, 32a). He is on pace to personal bests in goals (24) and assists (33).

….Ryan O’Reilly has 23 points (9g, 14a) in his last 22 home games and is second on the team with 52 points (20g, 32a) in 72 games.

….O’Reilly leads the league in faceoffs won (1,150) and faceoff percentage – 61.0%. At his current pace he could become just the third player ever to win at least 1000 faceoffs in a season while maintaining a faceoff percentage of at least 59 percent (joining Rod Brind’Amour – 5X and Patrice Bergeron – twice)

….Sam Reinhart has 17 points (7g, 10a) in his last 18 home games. Evan Rodrigues has nine points (2g, 7a) his last ten home games. Defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen has 1g, 8 assist his last 13 at home.

….At age 33 former Canadien Josh Gorges has been a healthy scratch 33 times this season including eight of the last ten games. In 30 games he has 0 goals, 2 assists. Nathan Beaulieu has 1 goal, 7 assists in 54 games and is minus-20. He has been a healthy scratch 12 times.

Goaltending –

….Antti Niemi has appeared in 21 games this season with a 5-8-4 record, 3.19GAA and .911 save%.

….Linus Ullmark will make his fourth appearance. He is 1-1-0 with a 2.40GAA and .933 save%.

Special Teams Power Play – Canadiens rank 16th (45/222) 20.3%. Buffalo ranks 26th (38/223) 17.0%. Penalty Killing – Canadiens rank 30th (45/222) 74.7%. Buffalo ranks 21st (45/210) 78.6%.

Canadiens Lines & Pairings

41-Paul Byron 92-Jonathan Drouin 11-Brendan Gallagher

27-Alex Galchenyuk 25-Jacob de la Rose 62-Artturi Lehkonen

38-Nikita Scherbak 49-Logan Shaw 53-Charles Hudon

20-Nicolas Deslauriers 34-Mike McCarron 43-Daniel Carr

28-Mike Reilly 26-Jeff Petry

22-Karl Alzner 58-Noah Juulsen

8-Jordie Benn 36-Brett Lernout

37-Antti Niemi

Healthy Scratches – C Byron Froese;

Injuries – RW Andrew Shaw (concussion); D Rinat Valiev (lower body); D David Schlemko (lower body); C Phillip Danault (concussion); LW Max Pacioretty (knee); D Victor Mete (broken finger); D Shea Weber (IR foot tendon surgery); RW Alex Hemsky (IR concussion)

Buffalo Lines & Pairings

20-Scott Wilson 90-Ryan O’Reilly 23-Sam Reinhart

28-Zemgus Girgensons 15-Jack Eichel 29-Jason Pominville

95-Justin Bailey 71-Evan Rodrigues 13-Nick Baptiste

17 Jordan Nolan 22-Johan Larsson 21-Kyle Okposo

6-Marco Scandella 55-Rasmus Ristolainen

82-Nathan Beaulieu 8-Casey Nelson

45-Brendan Guhle 41-Justin Falk

35-Linus Ullmark

Injuries– G Chad Johnson (head); G Robin Lehner (unspecified); C Jacob Josefson (lower body); C Zemgus girgensons (unspecified); C Seth Griffith (upper body); Jake McCabe (IR shoulder); C Kyle Criscuolo (IR shoulder); D Zach Bogosian (IR hip).

Healthy Scratches – D Josh Gorges; D Victor Antipin RW Benoit Pouliot