Forward lines and defense pairings
Drouin – Kotkaniemi – Lehkonen
Tatar – Danault – Gallagher
Agostino – Plekanec – Byron
Chaput – De la Rose – Scherbak
Reilly – Petry
Mete – Juulsen
Schlemko – Benn
The Toronto media are calling it the “super power-play.” And it’s rather impressive.
Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock loaded up the first wave of his power-play with his three best centres: Auston Matthews, John Tavares and Nazem Kadri. To this potent group, Babcock has added Mitch Marner and Morgan Reilly.
The NHL got it’s first look at this powerhouse unit on Wednesday night. They scored twice against the Canadiens.
“I think they’re going to burn a lot of teams,” said Canadiens head coach Claude Julien. Montreal’s revamped penalty-kill has been less than impressive in pre-season action.
But it was the Leafs penalty-killers that delivered the fatal blow to the Canadiens scoring twice while short-handed. “Mitch [Marner] on the penalty kill was dynamic,” said Babcock.
Jeff Petry coughed up the puck twice on the same power-play to gift wrap two goals to the opposition, which was the difference in this game.
Artturi Lehkonen continues to be the Canadiens best forward in the pre-season. But given the expectations coming in, Jesperi Kotkaniemi has deservedly been the talk of Montreal.
Tonight against the best that the Leafs have to deploy, Matthews, Tavares and Kadri, Kotkaniemi had an impressive performance. Afterwards, Julien said that it would be difficult to keep the 18-year-old out of the opening night lineup.
That’s not a guarantee but a rather bold statement from the Habs head coach with one pre-season game left on Saturday against the Ottawa Senators.
▲ Artturi Lehkonen, Carey Price, Jesperi Kotkaniemi
▼ Michael Chaput, Jeff Petry