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Season Opener Preview: Montreal Canadiens at Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs open their season at home versus their storied rival, the Montreal Canadiens.

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John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Dim the lights and watch this before reading:

Video by Tim Thompson, aka @b0undless.

Ahem. Opening night is here and it's time to write a preview for an actual real regular season game.


For the past six seasons the Maple Leafs have faced the Montreal Canadiens in the season opener, and won 4/6 times (they lost the 09/10 and 14/15 season openers).

This year is the seventh season in a row the Leafs open against Montreal and I am right now on my knees begging and pleading for a win tonight. Last season, the Leafs and Habs played four times and the Canadiens won every game. I had that stupid Habs flag hanging outside my house for 216 days in a row. This year will be different! This year will be ours!

Let's compare the opening night line ups from last year:

2014 Maple Leafs (players gone in italics):

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Joffrey Lupul - Nazem Kadri - Brandon Kozun
Daniel Winnik - Peter Holland - Matt Frattin
Leo Komarov - Mike Santorelli - David Clarkson

Jake Gardiner - Morgan Rielly
Dion Phaneuf - Stephane Robidas
Stuart Percy - Roman Polak

Jonathan Bernier
James Reimer

Scratched: Carter Ashton, Josh Leivo
Injured: Cody Franson

2015 Maple Leafs (new players are in italics):

James Van Riemsdyk - Nazeem Kadri - Brad Boyes
Shawn Matthias - Tyler Bozak - Joffrey Lupul
Daniel Winnik - Nick Spaling - PA Parenteau
Leo Komarov - Peter Holland - Mark Arcobello

Matt Hunwick - Dion Phaneuf
Martin Marincin - Morgan Rielly
Jake Gardiner - Scott Harrington

Johnathan Bernier
James Reimer

Scratches: Michael Grabner, Frank Carrado, Roman Polak
Injured: Stephan Robidas

Frattin, Percy, and Leivo were in the opening night roster, last year, but they are with the Marlies to start the season this year. PA Parenteau switched side from Montreal to Toronto and the Leafs dropped Kozun, Santorelli, Franson and David Carkson! Oh and Phil too...

There's not much to compare these current squads, stats wise, and since it's the first game of the year there's nothing to look back on (no, I'm not looking back on last year).

If you want some in-depth looks at what's expected for the teams you can check out the SBN Preview for the Leafs and Habs, as well as the PPP Preview Poll.

Brad Boyes and Shawn Matthias are playing the local boys come home story tonight. Brad boyes has an especially cool story, the Leafs drafted him 24th overall in the 2000 entry draft, but this will be the first game he plays as a Maple Leaf. He was traded with Alyn McCauley and a first round pick (Mark Stuart) to San Jose for Owen Nolan. Boyes was in his first AHL year with the St. John's Maple Leafs, and maybe thought his chances of becoming a Maple Leaf were over. Here he is tonight. Local boy made good.

We've seen the Shanaplan in action over the past few months, some more recent moves like telling Robidas to pack it up were good. Some were frustrating. Some were very well received.

The eyes on the front office now move to the ice, and tonight we see the Leafs play their first game that matters under Mike Babcock. We've seen eight pre-season games played under his systems with various players. How will the final 23 respond to it tonight? Will the new Leafs put the noise and the hype of playing in the ACC behind them or will the chance to finally live out a boyhood dream take over and cause a nervous first period?

I'm excited, the first game of the season is always one to get hyped up about. It's a blank slate, a fresh start, all the hopes and dreams are alive until they are CRUSHED AND DESTROYED.

What's the chatter out there today?

Here we go... Leafs' long climb out of rock bottom begins | Toronto Sun

Maple Leafs open season against Habs amid low expectations | Toronto Star

Mirtle: Why the Maple Leafs won’t be a disaster this season - The Globe and Mail

Babcock give Phaneuf vote of confidence - TSN

(To toss gas on the goalie fire Reimer's career versus Montreal is 5-4-0 2.88 GAA & .916sv%)

That one never disappoints.

Your YouTube clip to get you ready: