Dim the lights and watch this before reading:
Ahem. Opening night is here and it's time to write a preview for an actual real regular season game.
MONTREAL CANADIENS @
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
7:00PM - AIR CANADA CENTRE
TV: SPORTSNET, TVA SPORTS
RADIO: FAN590AM, TSN690AM
SBN: EYES ON THE PRIZE
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
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
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).
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?
Jonathan Bernier starts the Leafs season opener tonight. His career record against Montreal: 1-5-3 with 3.07 GAA, .900 save percentage.— Jonas Siegel (@jonasTSN1050) October 7, 2015
(To toss gas on the goalie fire Reimer's career versus Montreal is 5-4-0 2.88 GAA & .916sv%)
Bob Cole is in the house for tonight's Leafs/Canadiens game. #OhBaby— David Alter (@dalter) October 7, 2015
Seems possible that Harrington could rejoin Leafs and play tonight once Panik clears (or is claimed). Lot of extra work for Corrado/Polak.— Jonas Siegel (@jonasTSN1050) October 7, 2015
The #leafs have given George Armstrong and Red Kelly stalls in a rearranged dressing room.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 7, 2015
Peter Holland says Leo Komarov arrived this morning and said: "Who is Red Kelly?"— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 7, 2015
Polak, Corrado and Grabner getting worked extra following practice. One possibility could be Harrington being called back up to play tonight— David Alter (@dalter) October 7, 2015
Babcock on challenging Price " drive him deep and capitalize on 2nd chances, tough to do as Montreal D do a good job of boxing out."— Paul Hendrick (@HennyTweets) October 7, 2015
That one never disappoints.
Your YouTube clip to get you ready:
BRING ON THE HABS! GO LEAFS GO!