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Game preview: Les Maple Leafs au Québec

The Maple Leafs arrive in second place. Will they leave in second place?

Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens

Time: 7:00 PM ET

Location: Molson Centre

Broadcast/Streaming: Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, NHL Live

Opponent SBNation Site: Eyes on the Prize

One of the most anticipated games of the season is happening tonight! These two teams have not faced each other since opening night, way back in October, where the Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in overtime.

For a long time the Canadiens have dominated the Leafs; the Leafs went four seasons without a win over the hated Habs, but things changed last season when the Leafs swept the season series and the Maple Leafs flag finally hung high over my home - in theory because someone stole it AND the flag pole after that first win last season.

Hard to blame people for being excited.

Since their return from winter break, the Maple Leafs have been playing mostly well if we forget the Red Wings game. They beat the Penguins, obliterated the Ducks, and had a hard fought contest against the Senators. The Canadiens have had a similar record since their bye-week. They also began with an overtime loss, theirs was to the Devils, then they embarrassingly lost to the Oilers, beat the Ducks but they were only able to score four goals against them, and then beat the Winnipeg Jets*.

The Canadiens are a team we all wanted to dismiss ahead of the season, but they’re only one point behind the Leafs in the standings. Carey Price has remembered how to play hockey and stay healthy, the Max Domi trade hasn’t been the disaster we were hoping for, and Jonathan Drouin has become what people expected him to be - making Canadiens fans miss Mikhail Sergachev less and less.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Zach Hyman - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Patrick Marleau - Auston Matthews - Kasperi Kapanen
Connor Brown - Nazem Kadri - William Nylander
Par Lindholm - Frederik Gauthier - Andreas Johnsson

Jake Muzzin - Morgan Rielly
Jake Gardiner - Nikita Zaitsev
Travis Dermott - Ron Hainsey

Frederik Andersen
Garret Sparks

Montreal Canadiens

Jonathan Drouin - Phillip Danault - Brendan Gallagher
Tomas Tatar - Max Domi - Andrew Shaw
Artturi Lehkonen - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Joel Armia
Charles Hudon - Michael Chaput - Nicolas Deslauriers

Victor Mete - Shea Weber
Mike Reilly - Jeff Petry
Brett Kulak - Jordie Benn

Carey Price
Antti Niemi

Round one vs Boston Bruins

Toronto Team Boston
Toronto Team Boston
3-2 Record 2-3
14GF - 14GA Goal Differential 14GF - 14GA
27.3% - 5th Power Play 35.7% - 2nd
64.3% - 15th Penalty Kill 72.7% - 12th
Auston Matthews - 4 Most Goals Bergeron, Krejci, Pastrnak, Marchand, Coyle - 2
Morgan Rielly - 4 Most Assists Brad Marchand - 4
Auston Matthews - 5 Most Points Brad Marchand - 6
Nazem Kadri - 19 Most PM Charlie McAvoy - 6
Morgan Rielly - 24:34/G TOI Leader Charlie McAvoy - 16
Frederik Andersen - .925sv% Starting Goalie Tuukka Rask - .922sv%

The division is shaping up to host two of the Leafs, Bruins, or Canadiens in the second and third place spots, so tonight is a key game for the Maple Leafs who sit in the second place spot right now. A preview of the playoffs, holding firm on home ice, it’s a big game for the Leafs who hopefully are coming in more like the team that played the Ducks than the one that barely beat the Senators.

Notes from morning skate:

  • Tyler Ennis is off IR and active as a player, but sitting tonight.
  • The Montreal Canadiens brought Dale Weise back from the Flyers
  • They’ve waived Karl Alzner, who is making $4.625m per season until 2022
  • Andrew Shaw is back after missing 15 games

Alright, it’s six hours to puck drop. Let’s get ready.