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Maple Leafs Pre-Season Preview: Montreal @ Toronto

Tonight's game (and the rivalry) are Price-less.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Last we saw of the preseason Leafs, they were hosting a special teams clinic with Buffalo. The 5-4 loss was decided by special teams ("That's a lot of goals!" said my daughter) -- five-ish goals of the nine total coming from power play goals and a shorthanded one. Players that shone last night were Stuart Percy, Daniel Winnik, Matt Frattin, and Viktor Loov, and the whole thing was recapped here by Elsa Do.

7:30PM - Sportsnet - TSN1050
SBN: HEOTP

Last night's game was also a kind of winnowing. Marner, for example, sat out the game, and public opinion is split about whether William Nylander makes the NHL out of camp. Will there be cuts today? It's possible that by the time I've posted this, a few players will be out of the current 46-player roster. Tonight's projected lines via @markhmasters are:

Forwards:

JVR-Bozak-Setoguchi

Matthias-Holland-Boyes

Hyman-Nylander-Komarov

Glencross-Froese-Kapanen

Defense:

Gardiner - Robidas

Marincin - Palak

Brennan - Fraser

It's a beautiful mix of many levels of players, for those of you (like me) who are fans of the Minors. Reimer and Sparks are slotted for net, and I'm proud to see last year's Solar Bear suiting up again. Unlike a goaltending situation I'll get to in a moment, our resident goaltender expert Species says, "I don't see anything stopping Reimernier this season except a trade." Still, Sparks is proving himself for an AHL slot.

Today's game sees the Montreal Canadiens in town. Montreal is giving Carey Price a rest in favor of goalie Mike Condon (I assume Price is resting his back again in preparation for a hard season.), and when I saw this name, I thought: who? The answer is: this Mike Condon, the one who fell out of the Habs' T25U25 rankings last year. TVA Sports thinks that there's a fight for backup behind Carey Price, however, and wrote this interesting statement (badly google-translated):

"There will never be a struggle for the position of number one goalie in Montreal with Carey Price. But there could be a challenge for the assistant role. Dustin Tokarski will quickly be wary of Condon, especially since the latter will win an NHL salary only from the 2016-2017 season." (source)

I thought this was interesting, so I asked HEOTP writer Scott Malta to shed more light on the situation. He says:

I don't believe there is a real battle between the two but with Condon's strong performances in the past two seasons he's making a real case to be Carey Price's back up. It's no fault of Tokarski's however that he typically receives only road starts and light run support but his overall performance is easily replaced right now.

With Zach Fucale now out of juniors and Eddie Pasquale signed in the off season the crease gets a little more crowded and Tokarski could easily be the odd man out. Condon would move up to serve as Price's squire, and Fucale/Pasquale lead the Icecaps.

The Canadiens' roster:

Pateryn - D
Kassian - RW
Fleischmann - LW
Thomas - RW
Smith-Pelly - RW
Weise - RW
Tinordi - D
De La Rose - LW
McCarron - RW
Dumont - C
Andrighetto - LW
Carr - LW
Dietz - D
Barberio - D (Tampa misses you, Barbs!)
Gregoire - C
Desharnais - C
Holloway - C
Hanley - D
Ellis - D

Tokarski - G
Condon - G

Will tonight be a battle for Montreal's backup? I hope the Leafs light up Condon like a thing that lights up, of course, but it'll be an interesting meta-game to watch while enjoying preseason.

More interesting things to keep in mind for tonight's game: