LGD: Forever Preseason Rivals

There are few highs that match the excitement of winning both your split squad preseason games. Finding a nickel. A buy one get one sale at Payless Shoes. A Bar Rescue marathon. Tonight the Leafs will try and build on that high by taking their unbeaten record into Montreal to show the Habs who the kings of exhibition games are.

This is a special night for Mike Babcock, as he really enjoys the sandwiches in that city, so I could not be happier for him. It’s also the preseason debut of Mitch Marner, and likely following this game we’ll be treated to the next round of roster cuts. Preseason Fever! Catch It!

The fun starts at 7:30 PM ET on TSN 4 (for those in the Leafs region), so don’t be late.

The Leafs

No surprise that Mitch Marner, Mark Fraser, Frederik Gauthier, Nikita Soshnikov, and Leo Komarov are all drawing in for the game tonight after sitting last night. And while it seems unfair that Canadiens fans will get an up close look at Marner before Leafs fans, it might be a matter of mercy that they are breaking him in on the road.

Of the players in the lineup tonight, only Holland, Komarov, and Gardiner have their names written in ink on the opening night roster. For others like Campbell, Nielsen, Dermott, and Timashov this could very well be their farewell performance before they return to their junior teams.

So with Nylander replacing Leipsic on the top line we aren’t exactly certain what the lines will look like and the defensive pairings are also completely up in the air. It’s likely that Bibeau will get the start in net as he’s the only goaltender who hasn’t played yet, but that’s purely speculative.

The Habs

The Leafs have the distinct honour of being the first team to face Zach Kassian as a Hab. Hopefully this is the reason that Mark Fraser is in the lineup because few players are in greater need of a punch in the face than Kassian. Beyond that Gallagher, Price, Petry, and turtleneck are probably the most noteworthy Canadiens in the lineup tonight.

Price and Fucale are the goaltenders dressed for the Habs. The two extremes of the goaltending world when it comes to quality.

What to Watch For…

  • Tonight’s roster is all about the cuts, bout the cuts, no veterans. 
  • We’re all tuning in strictly to be in awe of Mitch Marner, right?
  • The first Bibeau appearance of the preseason. Sparks had a solid showing last night in the third, and hopefully we’ll see more of him as well.
  • Loov was pretty impressive last night, can he become a dark horse for a gig on the Leafs to start the year?
And remember this…

With two more games on the weekend and AHL camps not opening until the 29th, it’s likely this will be focused on sending the remaining junior eligible players back to their teams since their seasons have started, but with 53 players left, it seems odd to go into the weekend with more than 40 players left.