Montreal Canadians (23-20-4)
Toronto Maple Leafs (17-20-8)
7:00 pm (HNIC)
Oh how the mighty have fallen. After a torrid and record setting start to the season the Montreal Canadians find themselves struggling just to stay within striking distance of the playoff race. Perhaps P.K. Subban and company are thinking that a meeting tonight vs the Toronto Maple Leafs at the ACC is the tonic needed to turn around what was a promising Stanley Cup contending season.
Montreal is sitting on a 5 game losing streak and is 3-6-1 over it’s past 10 games. Recent news reports have Carey Price out of the lineup for at least another 3 to 4 weeks. Not good news if you are a Habs fan. Over the past 2 seasons the team has come to heavily rely on Price being between the pipes. That begs the question . . . Is Montreal that fragile without their top puck stopper? Every good team must rely on their goaltender to carry the team during those off nights. Is Price returning to the lineup that important to team success? Is this shades of Toronto from last season?
The team has endured other significant injuries with 4 regulars in total currently out of the lineup. Brendan Gallagher returned from that gruesome hand injury on Jan 01. That was eight games ago and has only scored 2 goals. That is way off his goal scoring pace prior to the injury. Subban is putting up the assists but has 3 goals on the season. There has been many rumblings that perhaps his off-ice commitments are interfering with his game. A combination of a drop in goal production and a weak defensive game is only a part of the problem. Players are publicly backing their coach. Some call this the kiss of death. Has Michel Therrien lost the dressing rooms ear? Only Montreal insiders know the answer. For the foreseeable future Therrien is safe from being shown where the unemployment line starts. At least until the end of the season. Montreal’s GM has gone public and is shouldering the blame for the collapse. However, with Bergevin also stating that the coach is good to the end of the season the GM is clearly telling the players to sort it out.
What a barn burner that was on Thursday night against Carolina. Social media was more interested in counting the tiles on their ceiling or picture frames on their TV units than reporting on the Leafs game. Can’t really blame them either. A 1-0 overtime loss with uninspired play by both teams can do that to a viewer. Can’t imagine what it was like at the ACC that night. The good news is that even though the losses continue to pile up the Leafs do play an entertaining brand of hockey most nights. Playing an original six team, the fact that the opposition tonight is Montreal and it being Shanahan’s 47th birthday should be plenty of motivation for the boys in blue.
As reported earlier this week on LeafsHub.com the usual suspects need to step up in the absence of James van Riemsdyk. Veteran leadership is needed from Bozak, Lupul, Kadri, and Phaneuf and either Reimer or Bernier. Bets are on Reimer. Babcock has conceded that goal production is an issue and the Leafs need to “score by committee” to be successful. Besides . . . Leafs management would like strong performances as the trade deadline nears. The next six weeks should prove to be interesting as Lamoriello and company execute the next phase of this rebuild.
Prior to the game tonight the Leafs will be holding a long overdue pregame ceremony honouring the great Dave Keon . It was reported this week that Keon has agreed to end a long standing grudge with the Leafs dating back to the days of Harrold Ballard ownership. Keon has been voted the greatest Leaf off all time in many different circles. 41 years after playing his last shift as a Leaf Mr. Keon still sits 3rd all time in career points for players that donned the Leaf Jersey.
This may be the biggest win of the Leafs 2015-2016 season. A follow up to tonights ceremony will occur in October 2016 when the Leafs will immortalize Keon as well as Turk Broda and Tim Horton with a bronzed statue unveiling for Leafs’ Legends Row. Welcome back Mr Keon to the Leaf family, you were sorely missed. Enjoy what will be a likely thunderous standing ovation.
Enjoy the game tonight.
Max Pacioretty – Tomas Plekanec – Brendan Gallagher
Alex Galchenyuk – David Desharnais – Dale Weise
Tomas Fleischmann – Lars Eller – Daniel Carr
Brian Flynn – Torrey Mitchell – Devante Smith-Pelly
Andrei Markov – P.K. Subban
Alexei Emelin – Jeff Petry
Nathan Beaulieu – Mark Barberio
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Shawn Matthias – Tyler Bozak – PA Parenteau
Michael Grabner – Nazem Kadri – Leo Komarov
Joffrey Lupul – Peter Holland – Josh Leivo
Daniel Winnik – Byron Froese – Rich Clune
Matt Hunwick – Morgan Rielly
Jake Gardiner – Dion Phaneuf
Martin Marincin – Roman Polak