MAPLE LEAFS (2-2-3) at CANADIENS (7-0-1)
Coming off a 3-2 win against the Florida Panthers 2 nights ago, tonight the Leafs make their way to La belle province as Montreal plays host to an improving Toronto club.
To say this will be a test of team mettle against the Montreal Canadiens is an understatement. Most NHL power rankings have the Habs listed as the top team in the league.
There a couple of obvious reasons for Montreal’s early season success. Carey Price has returned to the lineup after a miserable stay on injured reserve last season. His play has picked up right where it left off after his gold medal WCH appearances. Backup goalie Al Montoya hasalso displayed solid netminding making the Habs goaltending duo very formidable. Montreal sports the best team goal against average in the NHL. The fear is still there that as Price goes, so goes the hockey club. It appears though that if Price goes down again with injury that Montoya will handily fill in during any potential Price absence.
For those thinking that Montreal management failed in the Weber/Subban trade may be eating some early season crow. Subban has had a quiet start to his season in Nashville while Shea Weber leads the team in many statistical categories while also logging almost twenty-six minutes of ice-time each game.
Offence in general has been spread out among the forward corps which has also resulted in a league best goals for during 5 on 5 play. There are few teams that can keep pace with the Canadiens.
Leaf fans will be looking for another strong performance from puck stopper Frederik Andersen. At one point in this young season social media posts were asking for the return of Jonathan Bernier to the Leaf fold. This was not a compliment to Bernier but more of an onslaught of Leaf fans ire. Andersen allowed only 2 goals on 28 shots against Florida. It was a solid bounce back game after being peppered for 7 goals against Tampa Bay earlier this week.
Mitch Marner is making it difficult (or easy – depending on how you look at it) for Leafs management to decide where to play him as the 10 game mark draws near. His play with and away from the puck is drawing praise from Leaf coach Mike Babcock.
As a matter of fact Leaf rookies are showing their worth overall as both Nylander and Matthews are in the top 10 for points/scoring league wide.
This is an exciting time for the Leafs faithful after enduring a complete tear down of the underachieving teams prior to last season. One can sense that this team is a month or two away from a long win streak and perhaps stronger talk of challenging for a playoff spot.
Discuss amongst yourselves.
Enjoy the game tonight.
3PM UPDATE: It has been revealed that Craig Anderson of the Ottawa Senators is on a personal leave due to his wife Nicole Anderson being diagnosed with cancer.
Leafs Hub wishes Nicole a complete and speedy recovery.
Projected Line Combinations
Toronto Maple Leafs
Hyman — Matthews — Nylander
van Riemsdyk — Bozak — Marner
Komarov — Kadri — Brown
Martin — Smith — Griffith
Rielly — Zaitsev
Gardiner — Carrick
Marincin — Polak
Pacioretty — Desharnais — Shaw
Radulov — Galchenyuk –Gallagher
Lehkonen — Plekanec — Byron
Danault — Mitchell — Flynn
Emelin — Weber
Markov — Petry
Beaulieu — Pateryn
Mitch Marner — Morning Skate 10/29/2016