Montreal Canadiens Look To Close Out Road Trip With Victory In Buffalo
It has been a very telling last week for the Montreal Canadiens who started out a three game road trip on Saturday night when they visited the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena.
You could even describe it as something spectacular given the fact that the Habs have since locked up the top spot in the Atlantic Division following a 4–1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Monday night in Sunrise.
This all to be said, it provides an excellent example of resiliency and determination which they will attempt to keep present on Wednesday night when they finish things off and hopefully strong when they square off against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Arena for the final time this season.
As the Canadiens go chasing their sixth straight victory before heading home for their last game of regulation play at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Carey Price is set to get the call between the pipes against opposition another veteran in Robin Lehner.
Head coach Claude Julien sat Price on Monday at the BB&T Center, meanwhile, Charlie Lindgren made his season debut while Al Montoya continues to battle a lower-body injury which he suffered during a practice session at the Bell Sports Complex on Tuesday in Brossard, QC, leading to the emergency call of Zach Fucale up from the ECHL. He was later reassigned just a day later after Lindgren finally found a flight which could get him to Montreal.
Previewing the changes in tonight’s starting lineup aside from the return of Price in net, the club is once again shaping a full circle as Brian Flynn will be active for the first time since as he has been re-instated from the team’s injured reserve, meanwhile, Torrey Mitchell is back as well, both playing on a line with Dwight King. This leaves Steve Ott sitting alongside Michael McCarron and Andreas Martinsen while Brandon Davidson is joined on the third pairing by Nikita Nesterov, also returning from the injured reserve.
As for the status of Shea Weber, he is out once again for Wednesday’s affair after he was sent back to Montreal earlier in the week to meet with team doctors. Julien has said since that it is not a serious injury, however, that is all he is able to share.
Jordie Benn also remains out of game action, currently listed as day-to-day with no further updates on his health status yet reported or announced.
Quickly looking at what’s different for the Sabres, they will be without Kyle Okposo for the remainder of the season while Buffalo’s head coach Dan Bylsma gets to see Alex Nylander in another game, though, it’s not one that really matters, making for the second consecutive year in which the organization is without playoff contention coming ahead.
Reflecting back on Lindgren’s return to the big league squad with just one week left before the Stlaney Cup Playoffs, it obviously isn’t ideal in the long-term as the club does not get it’s best look at what may be up and coming, however, the talent he can show on a temporary basis is just as good as it has the potential to be at any time of the year realistically speaking.
In a statement from the 23-year-old netminder with regards to being brought up once again, he said, “It’s one of the best nights of my life. Growing up, I always said I wanted to play in the NHL … that really wasn’t my goal. My goal is to have a career in the NHL. This is just a start and I believe it’s going to be a bright future.”
As for how he was feeling both before and after the game which clinched them top spot in the Atlantic Division, Lindgren said, “I felt pretty relaxed. Nervous before the game, but once it gets going you go out and play. That’s the best part about hockey.”
Speaking more about the meaning in which would be carried in this start, Lindgren said, “I knew today that (division title) was on the line. Obviously, it’s a credit to those guys for having a heckuva season all year long.”
In terms of himself and what he looks forward to, perhaps one of the dreams being a tenure in which keeps him with the big league squad, Lindgren said, “I’m going to do whatever it takes to have a career in the NHL.”
Prior to the game, Julien shared a laugh with Lindgren after telling him, “Stop that first shot.” The response that followed was, “I thought that was pretty funny. Fortunately, tonight I did that.”
Looking at just how he did that, Lindgren managed to stop the first shot plus an additonal 30, pretty close to the game in which he played at the end of the year prior against the Carolina Hurricanes where he allowed the first shot by him, however, stopped 26 along the way en route to a 4–2 win.
The team agreed to terms with Lindgren just over a year ago after the 6-foot-2, 190-pound goaltender participated in three seasons of NCAA University hockey at St. Cloud State. He went unselected in the NHL draft
Looking at his stats during the 2016–17 season with the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League, Lindgren put together a record of 22–17–1 to go alongside four shutouts, a 2.62 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage.
When Price was asked about seeing Lindgren play, he said to the media, “I’m going to sit back and drink that Gatorade I guess and hope he does well.
Julien spoke next where he said, “He was very good. In the second period, when I thought we struggled, he gave us an opportunity to stay in the game and again we found a way in the third period to play better and to win the game for him. But I thought he was solid. I really enjoyed the way he played tonight and it just bodes well for the future of this organization.”
After the game, Lindgren received the first puck he touched while it was later sent off to his parents and grandfather who were in attendance watching from the stands after flying to Florida from Minnesota Sunday when the entire crew first learned of the news which had to be a moment worth cherishing a lifetime.
Montreal has won two of the three previous meetings between the two sides this season, with Buffalo’s only victory having come in overtime back on January 21. The Habs won the season opener, downing the Sabres by a final score of 4–1 while they also picked up a win on home ice on January 31.
Puck drop for Scotiabank Wednesday night Hockey is scheduled for 7:30pm ET which can be seen on Sportsnet Ontario and RDS, meanwhile, it can be heard on TSN Radio 690.