HabsWorld.net -- 

Written by Jeff Maslowski

(* see 6pm update at end of the article)


Tonight the Montreal Canadiens will be the guests to a second home-opener, and hope the hosts will be a little more hospitable this time around. 


The two teams welcomed new GMs aboard during the off-season, but that’s where the comparisons end. The Toronto Maple Leafs open the season with a veteran yet injury prone lineup whose only aspirations are to win the Cup. The Habs meanwhile are starting to lean more on their youth, slowing giving them more responsibility, and hope to sneak into the playoffs in what could be deemed a “transition” year with many veterans possibly playing their last season in Montreal.

The Canadiens will hope to take advantage of the fact they already have a game under their belt, but they know they will be facing another good test tonight.


The Habs will still be without their captain Saku Koivu, who has begun skating with the team but has yet to participate in any contact drills. He hopes to be back in the lineup next week. 


Niklas Sundstrom suffered a shoulder injury late in Thurday’s loss to Ottawa, and might miss Saturday’s game vs. Toronto.

If he can’t go, it’s expected Chris Higgins will dress for his first game in the NHL. He should center the 4th line between Dwyer and Ward assuming none of the injured are ready to return.


Joe Juneau was also banged up in the game vs. Ottawa, but he is expected to play tonight.


After another strong effort vs. Ottawa, Michael Ryder will move up to the 2nd line with Yannick Perreault and Donald Audette… while Jan Bulis, who had an uninspired game and was -2, will move down to the 3rd line with former linemates Joe Juneau and Andreas Dackell.


No changes on defence, so Francis Bouillon and Mike Komisarek will once again watch from the press box even if it was shaky game for the Montreal defensive corps vs. Ottawa.


Jose Theodore will be in nets for Montreal vs. Ed Belfour for the Leafs.


Probable lineup vs. Toronto:


·         Hossa-Ribeiro-Zednik

·         Ryder-Perreault-Audette

·         Bulis-Juneau-Dackell

·         Dwyer-Higgins-Ward


·         Markov-Rivet

·         Souray-Quintal

·         Hainsey-Brisebois




Sundstrom has pronouced himself ready to play, which quite frankly complicates things for Claude Julien.


It’s been decided Gordie Dwyer will sit out for Sundstrom, a sign management doesn’t think Dwyer can handle the tough Leafs lineup without Langdon & Begin to back him up. Wise move because Dwyer has yet to win a fight since coming to Montreal.


It’s unclear whether Julien will stick with Ryder on the 2nd line or change everything back as it was vs. Ottawa, except for Higgins replacing Dwyer on the 4th line.


Stay tuned. 


2nd Update:


In the end even if Sundstrom could have played, Julien decided to sit him out and stick with his original plan for tonight’s game, thus using the lineup we had first reported.