The Habs will look to waste no time getting into the win column on Tuesday as
they host Atlantic Division rival Toronto to kick off the season. It will
mark the official Canadiens debut for Daniel Briere while it expected that
George Parros, who missed the entire preseason recovering from offseason
surgery, will also don the bleu-blanc-et-rouge jersey for the first time.
Despite the positive news on Parros, it hasn’t been all good news when it
comes to Montreal’s injuries. Douglas Murray was diagnosed with an
upper-body injury on Monday and will miss the next 4-6 weeks. Suddenly,
there’s a chance that Murray, who was believed by some to be a stop-gap
replacement until Alexei Emelin returns from his knee surgery, may actually not
suit up for the Habs until after Emelin returns. Reserve defenceman Davis
Drewiske will also miss this one with a shoulder ailment; he’s out another two
to three weeks.
For the Leafs, they will be missing their prized free agent acquisition David
Clarkson who will begin serving his automatic 10-game suspension for leaving the
bench during an altercation. Enforcer Frazer McLaren has been placed on IR
with a finger injury; doing so allowed them to recall Troy Bodie a day after he
cleared waivers. As a result, Toronto is now carrying 12 healthy forwards
on their roster.
Recent matchups between these two teams have not been particularly close.
Of the five head-to-heads last season, four of them had a margin of victory of
three goals or greater; only the season opener was within a goal. That is
the only occasion in the past nine matchups that has been a one-goal game.
Both teams are coming off victories to end their respective preseasons.
Montreal finished up on a winning note with a victory over Ottawa while Toronto
won their final game against new division rival Detroit. The Leafs tied
for the highest point total in the preseason, compiling a 5-2-1 record while the
Habs were a .500 team, going 3-3-1. One other note from the exhibition
season, the hybrid icing that was used in those games will continue after the
players voted in favour of keeping the new format for the season.
van Riemsdyk – Bozak – Kessel
Raymond – Kadri – Lupul
Kulemin – Bolland – Ashton
Orr – McClement – Bodie
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Briere
Bourque – Plekanec – Gionta
Galchenyuk – Eller – Gallagher
Moen – Prust – Parros
Gorges – Subban
1) Get it over with early: One common element of recent season openers
between these two teams is the early fighting. We all suspect it won’t
take long for Parros to drop the gloves while there may be one other one as
well. Don’t let it fester, get it over with and get back to playing
2) No early goals allowed: Suffice it to say, the fans’ confidence in
Carey Price isn’t particularly high at the moment after a disappointing end to
last season although he did play well in the final preseason tilt. Keeping
the puck out early should get Price in the right frame of mind and avoid any
chance of the Bell Centre crowd jumping on him early.
3) Penalty kill prowess: At the beginning of the season, officials
tend to call the game more by the book (and soften their stances as the year
goes on). That means there should be a lot of powerplay opportunities.
The penalty kill for the Habs was poor last season and just as bad in the
exhibition season. That particular element will need to be sharp or
special teams may wind up being their downfall in this one.
Puck drop is at 7:00 PM EST and can be seen on RDS and CBC.