Breaking down the Buffalo Sabres Rivals: Canadiens

The Buffalo Sabres are playing a weaker team in the Montreal Canadiens, but that doesn’t mean they need to take this squad lightly. 

The Buffalo Sabres need to get back on track against the Montreal Canadiens following their 5-1 meltdown to the Seattle Kraken. But the Sabres had a day to recuperate following the nine-day road trip that saw them playing in a different arena every other night, which will wear down even the NHL’s best teams.

Compound the issue with the fact Henri Jokiharju and Mattias Samuelsson missed time, forcing the likes of Lawrence Pilut and Casey Fitzgerald to take their respective places in the lineup, and you got all the makings of a disaster. Now that Pilut and Fitzgerald have gotten some reps, plus the near-two days off, you can expect the Sabres to fare better against the Canadiens.

But if they plan on winning tonight, there are three players who jump out at me that they need to account for. Let’s analyze and check them out.

Buffalo Sabres vs. Canadiens: Three players to watch

Nick Suzuki is one of the best centers in the league. He’s just 23, meaning he hasn’t even hit his prime yet, and his seven total points in seven games tells me he will be a factor tonight and in every game he plays against the Sabres. Suzuki is also a fair defensive player, logging seven hits and six blocks.

David Savard may be on the second pairing, but he has been arguably Montreal’s most effective defenseman in this young season. In seven games, he has an astounding 33 blocks, putting him on pace for an outrageous 387 blocks this season. Strange as it sounds, the Sabres are pretty much going to have to get the puck past two people, Savard and the goaltender, in tonight’s contest every time the guy skates onto the ice.

Sean Monahan is perhaps Montreal’s most complete player. At 28, he is well into his prime and has a solid five points in seven contests. While he doesn’t have the same potential as others on the Canadiens roster, his ability to win faceoffs jumps out at me more than anything else, scoring an FOW% of 56.8% early on in 2022-23. Overall, Monahan will make it tough for the Buffalo Sabres to secure puck possession when he is tasked to win the faceoff battle.

While the Canadiens remain one of the league’s weaker teams, the three players mentioned above will keep the Sabres hands full in tonight’s contest. But if the Sabres account for and counteract them, they have a good chance to secure the W.

(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)

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