It was as one-sided as can be, a 5-1 Habs romp over a lacklustre Buffalo team, and how nice it is to clinch a playoff spot with eight games still to go instead of on the last day of the season, which is what we’ve seen in the past.
Just a great night for the Canadiens, in many ways, from start to finish.
A terrific rebound performance after losing to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. A domination of the other team like we’ve rarely seen this year. And best of all, a solid effort from almost everyone, top to bottom, beginning with Peter Budaj, who wins his seventh straight game in relief of Carey Price, and who said beforehand how proud he is to be a Montreal Canadien.
Maybe the entire team feels that way. Maybe the ones who weren’t proud aren’t there anymore.
Brendan Gallagher was a force all night, scoring Montreal’s third goal and in the thick of most things whenever he stepped on the ice. His joy of playing hockey and getting his nose dirty is written all over his face. This isn’t a small guy. Somehow his personal stats got mixed up along the way. Gallagher’s a huge guy. Just ask anyone who plays against him.
CBC’s Craig Simpson might be wrong when he says that next time around, opponents will play him differently and he might not be as effective down the road. I ask why not? I see no reason why he can’t continue to be an energetic and skilled guy who causes such havoc. Let other teams adjust. He’ll just plow ahead, play the only way he knows how, and maybe it’ll open things up for his teammates.
Ron MacLean said between periods that Gallagher is the modern day version of P.J.Stock……. I have no words for this.
Francis Bouillon took on Steve Ott after Ott had laid a punishing hit on Gallagher, and the super-strong Bouillon got the better of this Buffalo hothead. Ott also licked Jeff Halpern’s visor for some reason, which is a fine example of Ott not being completely all there.
Rene Bourque opened the game’s scoring, and once again he enjoyed a fine game, his second since returning from injury. Bourque’s a key guy, there’s no doubt, because you can never have enough big forwards who can skate like the wind, burst to the net using muscle, with good hands as a bonus.
P. K. Subban was once again sensational in notching a goal and an assist and moving the puck like a guy who’s been around for years. I don’t see a lot of other d-men around the league, but if someone is playing better than our guy right now, I’d like to know who he is.
Alex Galchenyuk scored his team’s second goal and it’s five games now with at least a point. This is a story in itself. Galchenyuk busted out of the gate in the beginning of the season, but somewhere along the line began to struggle. We chalked it up to a young guy learning his trade and the team and fans have been patient. It can’t be easy.
But wouldn’t you know it, this nineteen-year old has come alive again. He’s got a second wind, with the postseason just around the corner. The timing is impeccable.
I thought David Desharnais played a fine game, and he and Max assisted on Gallagher’s goal. Desharnais came close several times and his playmaking often proved dangerous, but until he lights ‘em up, he’s going to hear his critics. Maybe even rightly so. We’re a demanding bunch.
Andrei Markov was in charge on this night, adding a power play goal and an assist and quarterbacking like he’s done so often. Although with him being caught up ice, the Sabres were able to score a shorthanded marker and ruin Budaj’s shutout. But aside from this one little pothole in the road, Markov was solid.
It’s a write-off season for the Buffalo Sabres, who, with a 30th-ranked power play and dismal play all-round, remind me a lot of last year’s Habs. So I kind of feel for them a bit. Then I get over it real quick.
The Canadiens outshot the Sabres 42-15, and it was basically a nice, easy night for Budaj. But he stopped them when he had to, except for one, and what more can we ask?
Michael Ryder posted two assists, as did Max.
On to Toronto for a Saturday night special. With the very real possibility of the Habs and Leafs squaring off in the first round of the playoffs, it would be so great to see the Canadiens thump the bastards and take no prisoners. Montreal plays these guys not only on Saturday but also on the last day of the season, which is coming up fast. We need a serious statement made on both nights.