- The Canadiens hit the ice at First Niagara Center on Friday morning ahead of their game against the Sabres on Friday night.
- Carey Price will enjoy his 19th start of the season on Friday, including his first outing against the Sabres in 2014-15. The 27-year-old netminder is 13-9-7 in 29 career starts against Buffalo, looking to build on his impressive 1.93 all-time goals-against average vs. the Sabres.
- Injured former Hab Josh Gorges confirmed he won’t be in the lineup on Friday against his former team, but is hoping to be able to play the second half of the home-and-home series at the Bell Centre on Saturday night.
- Michael Bournival participated in a full practice with the team, still working his way back from an upper body injury suffered against the Sabres on November 5.
- Despite being a team currently tied for first in the NHL facing a team currently tied for last in the league, the Habs aren’t taking anything for granted coming into the front end of the home-and-home series. While Buffalo has as many wins as the Canadiens have losses so far this season, the Sabres have picked up the pace of late, and both teams own identical 3-2 records in their last five games. Coming off a 5-0 loss to the Rangers on Sunday night, Montreal will be looking to bounce back with a gritty performance at First Niagara Center on Friday night.
“They’re playing well. I think they had a three-game win streak going there and they have a lot of bodies coming in and out of the lineup,” mentioned Dale Weise, who has already tied his career high for goals with four through 20 games this season. “They’re a good team and they work hard, which is the key with them. We know they’re going to come in and work hard because this is a team with a lot of pride.”
- After being called up from the Bulldogs early on Tuesday evening, Eric Tangradi will take part in his first game as a member of the Canadiens on Friday night. Penciling Tangradi in alongside Manny Malhotra and Dale Weise, Michel Therrien has made his expectations very clear when it comes to the 25-year-old winger.
“He’s a big guy and I’m expecting him to play like it. I want him to skate. He has an opportunity to come back to the National Hockey League and I think he’s a young man who has sort of been searching for his place and his role the last few years,” said Therrien, whose new forward already has 136 career NHL games under his belt coming into Friday’s tilt. “We just want him to be himself and make his presence felt on the ice.”
- Ready to make his Canadiens debut on road ice, Tangradi is looking forward to keeping things simple in Buffalo, hoping to help bolster a lineup that already owns one of the best records in the NHL this season.
“Winning teams need to have balance and depth on all four lines, so if I can come in here and provide some sort of spark or try to do something to create momentum and help the team win, that would be great,” explained the Philadelphia native, who has previously suited up for the Penguins and Jets. “Manny plays a very simple game and a very predictable game. Coming into a new lineup, when you have a guy who plays the middle position the right way, you can feed off of him and know he’s going to be in the right spots at the right time. It takes some weight off me coming in and it allows me to do the things I’m good at and not try to force myself to make plays that might be a stretch.”
- The Canadiens are coming into Friday’s game more rested than usual, having had a quiet week after playing their most recent game in New York on Sunday night. Having given his troops two full days away from the rink on Monday and Tuesday, Therrien is hoping to see that extra R&R pay off against the Sabres.
“We had a good week, but we want to see the results of that rest tonight. I’m optimistic about tonight’s game,” admitted Therrien, who isn’t taking his basement-dwelling opponent lightly. “Every team in the NHL deserves our respect. We have to play another good game if we want to win.
“We did a lot of good things the last time we were here, which helped us start a big win streak,” he added, having won a 2-1 decision in a shootout on November 5 in Buffalo before kicking off a 8-2-0 sequence in the 10 games that followed. “I think this game will be a good challenge for us and we need to come in with intensity.”
Projected lineup vs. Buffalo
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
Game Preview: Canadiens @ Sabres
A big addition
Words from the room