Montreal Canadiens vs Toronto Maple Leafs:
Time: 7:00 pm ET
Location: ScotiaBank Arena, Toronto, ON
Broadcast/Streaming: CBC, CBC.ca, Sportsnet, CityTV, TVAS
Opponent SBNation Site: Habs Eyes on the Prize
The Leafs enter their game against Montreal on a three game slide, having fallen to third in the Atlantic Division, staring at the prospect of another first round matchup against the Boston Bruins. Meanwhile, Montreal has won two straight after a brief slide and currently occupy the first Wild Card spot, 3 points back of the Leafs with one more game played.
Lines based on practice, assuming Jake Gardiner will play.
Leafs will have an extra D on the ice in warm-up as a precaution but Babcock says Gardiner is expecting to play— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) February 23, 2019
Zach Hyman - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Andreas Johnsson - Auston Matthews - Kasperi Kapanen
Patrick Marleau - William Nylander - Connor Brown
Par Lindholm - Frederik Gauthier - Tyler Ennis
Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Muzzin - Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner - Travis Dermott
Jonathan Drouin - Phillip Danault - Brendan Gallagher
Tomas Tatar - Max Domi - Andrew Shaw
Paul Byron - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Joel Armia
Arturri Lehkonen - Nate Thompson - Charles Hudon
Victor Mete - Shea Weber
Mike Reilly - Jeff Petry
Brett Kulak - Jordie Benn
The most interesting matchup to me will be the Habs third line against the Leafs third line. William Nylander had an excellent season debut against Washington, but Montreal’s third line has destroyed just about everyone they’ve faced this season (including the Brown - Kadri - Nylander line in these teams’ last matchup). I don’t see Marleau and Brown being able to keep up with that group, and I don’t think Nylander will be able to will them to do so, so expect to see Montreal get the better end of that matchup, a relative rarity for the Leafs.
Montreal is no one’s idea of a fun team to play. While they lack elite the gamebreaking talent that the Leafs have, they play an efficient, structured game and have very solid forward depth. Weber and Petry anchor their top four, with both being very comfortable top-pairing defenders. The Leafs will need to be on their game, and in particular, their top lines have to capitalize on their advantages over Montreal’s.
Go Leafs Go!