It’s game three of eight between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens. Perhaps the most storied rivalry in the NHL, it is certainly one of the oldest. Every time these two teams meet, you know it will be exciting to watch. Montreal will be heading to the Air Canada Center sporting a 8-3-3 record which gives them 19 points and 5th place in the Eastern Conference. The Leafs meanwhile are 10-5-3 which gives them 23 points and puts them one place ahead of the Habs, while having played four more games.
Two french speaking netminders will do battle Saturday night in Toronto. Montreal native J-S Aubin will be tending the crease for the Leafs, playing against his hometown team. Aubin is 1-1 with a goals against average of 4.10 and a save percentage of .857 . He will be filling in for an injured Andrew Raycroft, who hurt his groin Thursday night in a game against the Bruins. Meanwhile, at the other end of the ice, a red-hot David Aebischer will be keeping guard. He is 5-1-1 with a goals against average of 2.49 and a save percentage of .925.
Perhaps the real story of this game, however, are the injuries. Both franchises will be missing integral parts of their lineups. Montreal’s sophomore sensation Chris Higgins is still sidelined with an ankle injury. He collected eight goals and five assists for thirteen points in thirteen games this season. Mathieu Dandenault and Francis Boullion are also injured for the Habs, though Dandenault is said to be improving daily. Meanwhile, the Leafs also find themselves in a dire situation. Captain Mats Sundin is current on the IR with an elbow injury, while Staffan Kronwall (ankle), Carlo Colaiacavo (concussion) and Andy Wozniewski (shoulder) are also sidelined. Recent free agent acquisition Pavel Kubina will also be out of the lineup, as he returned to the Czech Republic for personal reasons.
Montreal is coming off of a huge shootout win against the Oilers. It was a game in which Canadiens rookie Guillaume Latendresse scored his first career NHL goal. The Leafs meanwhile are coming off a 6-4 win against the Bruins in a game that they nearly let get away in the dying minutes of the 3rd.
Projected Canadiens Lineup
Latendresse – Koivu – Ryder
Samsonov – Kovalev – Perezhogin
Plekanec – Bonk – Johnson
Murray – Begin – Downey
Komisarek – Markov
Souray – Rivet
Niinimaa – Streit