Habs to healthy scratch Gilbert for first time this season

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Tom Gilbert’s been a consistent presence on Montreal’s back end this season — appearing in all 23 games, while averaging 19:23 TOI per — but on Friday, he’ll be in the press box as a healthy scratch when the Habs take on the Sabres in Buffalo.

Gilbert, 31, signed a two-year, $5.6 million deal with the Habs this summer and started brightly, playing over 21 minutes in eight of his first eight games of the year (during which Montreal went 7-1). The veteran blueliner has seen his ice time diminish lately, though — he played a season-low 14:19 against Detroit two weeks ago, and in his next game out he went minus-3 in a 4-0 loss to Pittsburgh, during which he only played 17:11.

In last Sunday’s 5-0 drubbing against the Rangers in New York, Gilbert’s ice time was cut again as he finished with just over 15 minutes.

Not helping Gilbert’s cause is Montreal’s blueline depth. GM Marc Bergevin has recently acquired veterans Sergei Gonchar and Bryan Allen via trade, giving the Habs plenty of different options on defense.