Even though it is Halloween tonight, both Toronto and Montreal would like to bring a halt to their last two ghoulish on ice performances. The Toronto Maple Leafs (1-7-3) travel to Montreal (6-7-0) tonight which pits hockeys two oldest rivals’ against one another. It feels like ages ago when Montreal defeated Toronto on opening night 4-3. There is never a shortage of talking points going into a Toronto-Montreal game and tonight will be no different. Welcome back Komisarek!
Both teams are coming into tonight on two game losing streaks. Last night Toronto was able to take Buffalo to overtime however, Tim Connolly made sure the Leafs did not leave Buffalo with 2 points. Montreal is coming off two sluggish road games the most recent a 3-2 loss in Chicago last night. Montreal was lucky to be in the game last night as they were thoroughly outplayed by a superior Blackhawk team. Tomas Kaberle is leading the Leafs’ in points with 13, however is a disappointing -5. Niklas Hagman is leading Toronto in goals with 6.
The Andrei Kostitsyn experiment on the first line last night was a disaster. Kostitsyn is having a very rough start to the season which could see the lines from last week re-established. Halak could be back in the goal tonight as Carey Price played last night. Matt D’Agostini took a hard hit last night Andrew Ladd, look for him to take a night off tonight to clear the cobwebs. This could see Greg Stewart back in the lineup. Andrei Markov and Ryan O’Byrne remain sidelined for the meantime.
Vesa Toskala looks set to start in goal tonight for Toronto after “the monster” Jonas Gustavsson started last night in Buffalo and is coming off a minor injury. Phil Kessel is getting close to making his debut for Toronto, but it will not be tonight. He will be joined in the press box by Mike Van Ryn who is out for the season.
Keys to the Game:
Although Toronto has only one win on the season, when these two teams play you can throw all the stats out the window. Toronto and Montreal is always a different type of game and the Habs will have to remain focused to get the win tonight. Scoring remains an issue for Montreal. The first line was split up last night in Chicago to try and produce some goals, but with little success. Other than a hiccup the other night against Pittsburgh, the Habs defense has remained fairly impressive considering they are without all-star Andrei Markov and Ryan O’Byrne. They will have to continue this solid defensive play and hope the goals come. Jacques Martin has already proven himself as an experienced coach, and look for him to really take advantage of the last change tonight and get the match-ups he wants on home ice.
This is Mike Komisarek’s first game back in Montreal after he decided to flee the Canadiens organization in the summer for the Maple Leafs. There is no doubt he will get special treatment from the Bell Centre crowd tonight. This might make former Mikhail Grabovski the happiest man tonight as the presence of Komisarek will take some of the focus off of the former favourite boo-boy. Montreal will be wearing their barbershop jerseys tonight, you have been warned.
The game tonight starts at 7pm ET and can be seen on CBC (HD) and RDS (HD).