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Game Preview: Montreal Canadiens vs Toronto Maple Leafs

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Two teams having vastly different seasons meet up again

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Team vs Team: Game 72

Time: 7:00 PM Eastern

Location: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Broadcast/Streaming: CBC, Sportsnet

Opponent SBNation Site: Habs Eyes on the Prize (which remains the dumbest SBN blog name)

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forward Lines

Andreas Johnsson - William Nylander - Zach Hyman
Patrick Marleau - Nazem Kadri - Mitch Marner
James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Connor Brown
Dominic Moore - Tomas Plekanec - Kasperi Kapanen

Defence Pairings

Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner - Roman Polak
Travis Dermott - Connor Carrick

Goaltenders

Curtis McElhinney
Garret Sparks

Montreal Canadiens (via DailyFaceoff)

Forward Lines

Paul Byron - Jonathan Drouin - Brendan Gallagher

Alex Galchenyuk - Jacob de la Rose - Artturi Lehkonen

Nikita Scherbak - Logan Shaw - Charles Hudon

Nicolas Deslauriers - Michael McCarron - Daniel Carr

Defence Pairings

Mike Reilly - Jeff Petry

Karl Alzner - Noah Juulsen

Jordie Benn - Brett Lernout

Goaltenders

Antti Niemi

Charlie Lindgren


The Habs are heading into this game well into the tanking part of their schedule. They’ve shut down their three best players (Carey Price, Shea Weber, Max Pacioretty) and seem content to play the kids that they have, see who sticks, and maximize their shots at getting Rasmus Dahlin. That said, they won’t roll over and die, and they do still have some talented forwards in their lineup.

Jonathan Drouin isn’t a centre, but he does have immense skill. He’s not put it together, and his stats are always worse than you expect from a player like him, but he is capable of dominating a game. Brendan Gallagher, Artturi Lehkonen, and Charles Hudon can also be scary at times, and possess enough talent to steal a game from a better team.

However, the forward depth on this team is truly awful, especially right now. de la Rose is a 4th line centre who is played vastly over his head. McCarron is probably not even a NHLer. The bottom six on this lineup is putrid, and the defence corps are really nothing to write home about either, without Weber to prop them up. Petry is nice, Juulsen is young and promising, and the rest are varying shades of mediocre.

Niemi has quietly turned around his year, after a putrid start to the season... he’s playing for a contract, and might just get it with how he’s ended the year.


On the Leafs side of things, the health of Auston Matthews, Nikita Zaitsev, and Frederik Andersen is still unclear. With the Leafs locked into their position, there’s no need to rush any of them back. We will update this post with information as we get it.

UPDATE:

So it looks like we’re getting close to full health, but not quite there yet.