Game Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs vs Montreal Canadiens (Game 1)
MONTREAL, QC – After nearly four months of hockey were wiped away due to the lockout, our game is finally back. There is no better way to kick start the 2013 season then a classic Habs – Leafs game on a Saturday night. Both teams are looking to bounce back from sub-par performances last season that saw them miss the playoffs. The division rivals will be hoping for a hot start to the season and trying to string together a couple of wins early.
For the Canadiens, with seven of their first nine games being played at the Bell Center, there is no better opportunity for a hot start. These first couple of weeks could make or break their season. With a fully healthy lineup that includes 2012 third overall pick Alex Galchenyuk, the Habs are confident in their team’s ability to bounce back and challenge for a playoff spot in the shortened 48-game season. In order to succeed they will need to see strong consistent goaltending from star netminder Carey Price. Having a healthy Andrei Markov this season should also boost the team’s defensive core and power-play.
Canadiens – Key for Tonight: Heading into tonight’s match-up the Habs will need to fight off Toronto’s top line of Kessel, Bozak and Lupul. Remaining disciplined will be extremely important as the Leafs boasted the League’s 10th ranked power play in 2011-2012.
The Leafs on the other hand, have quite a few more question marks then their opponents heading into tonight’s match-up. Toronto placed veteran center Tim Connolly on waivers yesterday, and traded Matthew Lombardi to the Phoenix Coyotes in order to make space for youngster Nazem Kadri. The 22-year-old forward figures to start the season centering the team’s 3rd line. He will be given every opportunity to impress his coaches and stick in the NHL for good. The Leafs will also need solid goaltending from the duo of Ben Scrivens and James Reimer this season if they want to contend for a top-8 spot in the Eastern Conference.
Maple Leafs – Key for Tonight: Going into the Bell Centre tonight, the Leafs will want to get off to a quick start. The crowd in Montreal will play a big factor in the game, so Toronto will want to silence them as early as possible.
Lupul – Bozak – Kessel
MacArthur – Grabovski – Kulemin
van Riemsdyk – Kadri – Komarov
Brown – McClement – SteckelDefence
Phaneuf – Kostka
Liles – Franson
Gunnarsson – Komisarek
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Cole
Galchenyuk – Plekanec – Gionta
Moen – Eller – Bourque
Prust – White – ArmstrongDefence
Markov – Emelin
Kaberle – Gorges
Bouillon – Diaz
From a fantasy perspective, here are some players from each side that could help you in your pools on opening weekend.
- Max Pacioretty (Montreal Canadiens): Habs power forward will get plenty of goal scoring opportunities vs unproven Leafs goaltending.
- Thomas Plekanec (Montreal Canadiens): Playing with rookie sensation Alex Galchenyuk during his 5 game trial.
- Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens): Will be a fantasy factor for the Habs in nearly every game this season.
- Phil Kessel (Toronto Maple Leafs): 6th leading scorer from last season has 26pts in 35 career games vs Montreal.
- Joffrey Lupul (Toronto Maple Leafs):67 pts in 66 games last season. Will ride shotgun with Kessel again in 2013. Could score tonight.
The Montreal Canadiens win 4-2.
For more pre-game prep, read: GameDay: Leafs vs Habs Lineups, Therrien, Subban, Gardiner, Plekanec