Canadiens vs. Sabres: Five things you should know
Here are five things you should know about the Canadiens game against the Buffalo Sabres Saturday night at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., SN, TVA Sports, TSN Radio 690):
Price returns:Carey Price will be back in goal for the Canadiens after missing 10 games with a lower-body injury. The Canadiens, who went 4-4-2 during Price’s absence, sent rookie goalie Charlie Lindgren back to the AHL’s Laval Rocket after practice Friday. Lindgren had a 3-4-1 record with a 2.43 goals-against average and .924 save percentage during Price’s absence. Price is 3-7-1 with a 3.77 goals-against average and .877 save percentage. Antti Niemi will be Price’s backup, while Al Montoya remains sidelined indefinitely with a concussion.
Lots of problems: The Canadiens (8-12-3) are in 14th place in the Eastern Conference standings. Heading into Friday’s games, the Canadiens ranked last in the 31-team NHL in offence (averaging 2.30 goals per game), 29th in defence (allowing 3.43 goals per game), 29th on the power play (14.4 per cent), 27th in penalty-killing (75.3 per cent) and 23rd in faceoffs (48.8 per cent). The Canadiens do rank No. 1 in shots on goal, averaging 36.0 per game.
Sabres are worse: The Sabres, with a 6-13-4 record following Friday night’s 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers in Buffalo, are one of only two teams in the Eastern Conference with a worse record than the Canadiens. The other team is the Florida Panthers (8-11-2). Kyle Okposo had a goal and an assist Friday night to help the Sabres end a seven-game losing streak.
Injury report: The Canadiens’ Shea Weber, who has missed the last two games with a lower-body injury, didn’t practise Friday and coach Claude Julien said he didn’t know if the defenceman would be in the lineup against the Sabres. Brendan Gallagher, the Canadiens’ leading scorer with 9-5-14 totals, also missed Friday’s practice with a therapy day, but Julien said the forward would be in the lineup Saturday night. Defenceman David Schlemko, who hasn’t played a game this season after suffering a hand injury at training camp, was sent down to the AHL’s Laval Rocket on Friday for a conditioning stint.
Schedule favours Habs: Seven of the Canadiens’ next eight games are at the Bell Centre and four of the next five are against Atlantic Division rivals, making this a key stretch if they hope to get back in the playoff mix.