LGD: He Can’t Carey Them Forever

Photo Credit: Eric Bolte/USA TODAY SPORTS

The Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Montreal Canadiens tonight. While their last matchup, a 2-1 loss on October 29th, wasn’t exactly what the Leafs were looking for, they come into this one with more confidence than ever while the Habs appear to be a bit weakened by recent matchups. Here’s what’s going down at the Bell Centre tonight:

The Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff

So the lines have shifted a bit. The Mitch Marner experience is getting the big minutes, and William Nylander will swap lines with Connor Brown. Perhaps it’s an attempt to get both Nylander and Auston Matthews some hotter-sticked linemates to help them turn around their scoring droughts. Maybe Babcock isn’t too phased by the droughts and just wants one of each wunderkind on each line. Either way, it’s kinda neat.

The Habs

Montreal Canadiens lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff

Speaking of spreading out the talent, I think that’s what the Habs are trying to do here? Paul Byron, Phillip Danault, and Chris Terry don’t exactly scream “top nine”, but each line has at one or two quality players. Toronto should be aggressive about trying to create their zone entries through the weak links, though, given that they’re weaker that most third wheels.

Starting Goaltenders

Starting in goal for the Habs, once again, is Carey Price. I’ll concede my pre-season thoughts and admit that he is the best goaltender in the world right now; he’s putting up the numbers and his technicals are on another level. But he did finally lose a game on Thursday; the Panthers put four behind him, one of which being an overtime changeup from Aaron Ekblad caused by a broken stick. Hard to bet against 9-0-1, but the Leafs are the best offensive team in hockey right now and even the greatest shouldn’t be expected to keep up a 0.951.

Frederik Andersen returns to the net for the Leafs. He’s on a good run of form himself; since letting in seven against the Lightning, he’s 7-2-0 with 0.931 save percentage. He looked pretty good in the last game against the Habs, so the hope is that he’ll repeat the performance with a better team result attached.

What To Look Out For

The world is starting to agree that #TheLeafsAreActuallyGood, but a win tonight would be huge for confirmation. A two-goal gap would bring their goal differential back to break-even, and a win combined with losses from the Senators and Bruins would give them the third spot in the Atlantic Division.

Yes, Toronto lost the last matchup. But it was by a single goal in a building where the Habs are 10-0-1. Several of the Leafs are due for goals, including the ice-cold Auston Matthews. Could this be the night that the drought ends? Anything is possible here.

If nothing else, the highlights should be a lot of fun. Weber/Emelin and Hunwick/Polak should mean that both teams’ skilled forwards get to pull off some hilarious dekes on occasion. Not to mention, the two teams are 1st and 3rd in combined shot attempts for and against, meaning high-event hockey is almost certainly a given.

Puck drop is at 7:00 PM. Saturday night. Hockey Night In Canada. Never gets old, does it?

  • Brent Wisken

    The last game we played the Habs, the Leafs were the better team but lost to Price. Hoping we put a few past him tonight. Looking forward to watching Matthews with Brown and Hyman. A few games ago they played together for a few shifts and looked good together for that short period of time. Nylander with Kadri could work well as well.

    • LukeWarmWater

      Welll that is the problem he isn’t classy, just another cheap shot artist punk in the league who waits for the end of the game to deliver a vicious hit. Good for Brown for jumping in while several of J.V.R.’s team mates seemed prepared to waltz around.

  • LukeWarmWater

    Got to give the Habs credit as in an increasing number of games they are playing leaping Lou’s trap hockey. Get a lead and then simply sit on it with the best goalie in the game. I’m sure some betters out there made some money that this would be another European soccer score. Two games at the Bell center, the Habs have 4 goals the leafs 2. Some of us are old enough to remember the Habs fire wagon hockey, the Flying French men. Not Lamerello’s trap hockey as they hope to score an empty netter and get two assists on the goal as well.

    Price is indeed at the top of his game and with that talent also goes luck as any deflection seems to go right to Price rather than the top corner or the far side. Must be a magnet on the puck and inside Price’s equipment.

  • LukeWarmWater

    Jeffer, Jeffer, Jeffer, the game ended almost 3 hours ago. Now to quote soul singer Wilson Picket ” I’m going to wait till the midnight hour.” The hordes of your fan club are waiting diligently for your pearls of wisdom on the Habs playing boring trap hockey and hanging on to a European soccer score which was a carbon copy of the first game these two teams played earlier in the year.