The Montreal Canadiens (16-16-5) will face the Buffalo Sabres (15-19-4) at Bell Centre on Thursday. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm ET.
The Habs are coming off an important 4-3 win against the high-flying Dallas Stars on Tuesday, finishing their lengthy seven-game holiday road trip on the right foot.
The top line featuring Juraj Slafkovsky, Nick Suzuki, and Cole Caufield was once again in the spotlight. Not only did they control most of the shots and expected goals, but they also scored two goals.
Slafkovsky was only credited with one assist against the Stars, but he was crucial in three different scoring plays. After a slow start to the year, the 2022 first-overall pick has found his rhythm. The 19-year-old winger has two goals and five assists in the last six games and has used his size to create time and space for his linemates on several occasions.
His work on the forecheck, in particular, has been impressive and has added an important element to the top line. While Caufield acts as the sniper, and Suzuki acts as the playmaker, Slafkovsky has been entrusted with creating turnovers with his 6’3″ frame.
There was some surprising news at practice, as forward Josh Anderson was skating with the rest of the team. Anderson was spotted limping down the tunnel at the end of the game versus the Stars. He could not put any pressure on his leg, which led to assumptions that he’d miss significant time.
— Stu Cowan (@StuCowan1) January 4, 2024
Forward Rafael Harvey-Pinard was also present at practice, though he’s not expected to play versus the Sabres. He left the ice before the main practice started.
RHP on the ice this morning with Montembeault pic.twitter.com/9oMOO6cD3z
— Bryan Mudryk (@BryanMudryk) January 4, 2024
Even though the NFL’s Bills have looked better in recent years, Buffalo seems to be a city that’s destined for sports disappointment. As for the Sabres, they’re once again underachieving, to the surprise of absolutely no one.
The Sabres have several talented players in their lineup, including Rasmus Dahlin and Tage Thompson, but currently sit seventh in the Atlantic Division, three points behind the rebuilding Canadiens, who have one game in hand.
Casey Mittelstadt leads the team in scoring with 10 goals and 21 assists, followed closely by Dahlin, who has 10 goals and 19 assists.
Jeff Skinner has been their most productive player in recent games, with three goals and two assists in the last five matchups.
Montreal Canadiens Injuries
- Carey Price (IR)
- Chris Wideman (IR)
- Kirby Dach (out indefinitely, ACL/MCL)
- Rafael Harvey-Pinard (IR)
- Alex Newhook (out 10-12 weeks)
- Tanner Pearson (IR)
- Christian Dvorak (out)
Buffalo Sabres Injuries
- Kyle Okposo (out)
Montreal Canadiens Projected Lineup
Buffalo Sabres Projected Lineup
Skinner – Thompson – Tuch
Peterka – Cozens – Quinn
Greenway – Mittelstadt -Benson
Girgensons – Krebs – Robinson
Dahlin – Jokiharju
Power – Johnson
Samuelsson – Clifton