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Pregame: Canadiens vs Sabres

November 22, 2022, 5:18 PM ET [162 Comments]
Karine Hains
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Follow me @KarineHains for all updates about the Montreal Canadiens and women's hockey

The Canadiens announced bright and early today that Mike Hoffman wouldn’t practice or play tonight and when the team jumped on this ice for the morning skate, Joel Armia was wearing a regular jersey indicating that he was likely ready to return. The lines used during practice confirmed as much since Armia skated on the 4th line with Pezzetta and Evans while Juraj Slafkovsky was with Christina Dvorak and Brendan Gallagher.

In other words, after playing 13 games in a limited role on the 4th line, this year’s first overall pick is getting an opportunity to play on an offensive line. Hopefully, Slafkovsky can seize this opportunity and make the most of his shot. There’s no timetable for Hoffman’s return yet, but there’s no time to lose for the youngster.

Meanwhile, on the blue line, both Jordan Harris and Chris Wideman will be back in the line-up, meaning that Arber Xhekaj and Jonathan Kovacevic will be watching the game from the press gallery. I was fully expecting Harris to be back considering how St-Louis had spoken of his rotation system, but I was surprised to see Wideman back in, until I remembered that a few weeks ago, the coach had said that he didn’t want anyone to sit for too long. Wideman’s last game was on November 5th against Vegas and while sitting won’t hurt his development, it’s important to keep everyone in game shape.

Much has been made this season of the Canadiens’ abundance of forwards and of the fact that Kent Hughes has been trying to move someone, but the blue line is now quite crowded as well. Right now, the Habs are carrying 8 healthy blue liners and sooner or later, they’ll probably want to give Justin Barron a look as well. Meanwhile, in Toronto, defenders keep dropping like flies with Morgan Reily being the latest casualty following Brodie and Muzzin. Could Hughes dangle a veteran under Dubas’ nose? It’s worth thinking about…

The puck drop is set for 7:00 PM at the Bell Centre and the Canadiens will be hoping to build up on their emotional win against Philadelphia Saturday night. Tonight’s opponent, the Buffalo Sabres have lost their last 8 games, but this doesn’t mean that they’ll be an easy prey, the Habs would do well to remember that.

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