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Toronto Maple Leafs game preview: In Montreal for another win

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With the Habs coming off an embarrassing loss to the Coyotes, the Leafs need to take control of the game early

Toronto Maple Leafs v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

The Montreal Canadiens lost to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night, giving the poor Coyotes their first regulation win of the season. The Maple Leafs on the other hand, are missing one of the best players in the NHL and have won four straight games. Tonight should be the second win in the Leafs own run of three straight years without a loss against the Canadiens, after all, the Habs couldn’t beat the Coyotes.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens
7:00PM - Bell Centre, Montreal QC
TV: CBC, Sportsnet, City TV, TVA Sports
Radio: Sportsnet 590
SBN site for victory gif posting: Eyes on the Prize

The Canadiens are currently being plagued by an injury bug, with four players officially out and three others missing practice yesterday. Carey Price, Ales Hemsky, Al Montoya, and Arturri Lehkonen are on the shelf, and Jordie Benn, Jonathan Drouin, and Max Pacioretty skipped practice yesterday morning with the flu but were skating this morning.

The Maple Leafs are only iffy on Auston Matthews, who has been practicing with the team but hasn’t suited up in four games. Thankfully the Leafs are winning those games, but as seen in Thursday’s game versus the New Jersey Devils, the wins aren’t easy ones. Matthews was working out in the morning skate today. Babcock says he’ll be a game time decision, but is leaning towards playing him.

Nikita Soshnikov is still up with the Leafs, and with Josh Leivo singing a new deal we’ll wait and see which one, if either, gets into the line up. With that in mind, here’s how the lines could shake out (with no morning skate it’s a best guess based off the last few games Matthews played):

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Leo Komarov - Nazem Kadri - Josh Leivo
James van Riemsdyk -Patrick Marleau - Connor Brown
Matt Martin - Tyler Bozak - Mitchell Marner

Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner - Nikita Zaitsev
Andreas Borgman - Roman Polak

Frederik Andersen
Curtis McElhinney

The Canadiens lines, with the skating flu tro, could look like this:

Max Pacioretty - Phillip Danault - Andrew Shaw
Alex Galchenyuk - Jonathan Drouin - Paul Byron
Charles Hudon - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher
Nicolas Deslauriers - Jacob De La Rose - Byron Froese

Jordie Benn - Shea Weber
Karl Alzner - Jeff Petry
Victor Mete - Joe Morrow

Charlie Lindgren
Zach Fucale

Numbers Preview

Maple Leafs Team Devils
Maple Leafs Team Devils
265GF - 226GA - +29 Goal Differential 238GF - 234GA - +4
24.4% - 2nd overall Power Play 21.7 - 10th overall
81.3% - 12th overall Penalty Kill 81.9% - 7th overall
James van Riemsdyk - 36 Most Goals Taylor Hall - 39
Mitch Marner - 47 Most Assists Taylor Hall - 54
Mitch Marner - 69 Most Points Taylor Hall - 93
Matt Martin - 50 Most PM Miles Wood - 84
Jake Gardiner - 22:33/G TOI Leader Sami Vatanen - 22:42
Frederik Andersen - .917sv% Starting Goalie Keith Kincaid - .911sv%

In their last meeting the Leafs beat the fully stocked Canadiens 4-3 in overtime. That win ended a 14 game losing streak against the Canadiens, which lasted almost four years (started Jan 18, 2014).

With the Canadiens missing a good portion of their regulars, the Leafs have a chance to put their current win streak to six, and increase their four point gap between them and third place in the Atlantic Division.

I love game day versus Montreal. I love it more now that we’re the better team.