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Maple Leafs vs Canadiens: Preview and Game Chat

Mitch Marner still a game-time decision.

NHL: MAR 10 Lightning at Maple Leafs
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 10: General view of Scotiabank Arena as Tampa Bay Lightning Center Brayden Point (21) and Toronto Maple Leafs Center Auston Matthews (34) get ready for the opening face-off before the NHL regular season game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 10, 2020, at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON, Canada.
Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Montreal Canadiens @ Toronto Maple Leafs: Game #1

7:00pm @ Scotiabank Arena
TV/Streaming: Sportsnet, TVAS
Opponent’s site: Habs Eyes on the Prize

Welcome back to another season of Toronto Maple Leafs hockey! We're experimenting on our Preview/GDT article format, so let us know what you like and what you don't! We aren’t going to do a formal preview in the morning because Sheldon Keefe tends to start practices half an hour after our post is up and we usually have to make changes. Instead, we are planning to post the GDT earlier and provide all the lineups and news in that.

The Leafs open the season with some injuries to deal with. Ilya Mikheyev is out for at least six weeks with a broken finger on his left hand, as if those mitts hadn't been through enough. Auston Matthews is expected to miss the first few games (Keefe said not available until next week) because of wrist surgery he had late in the summer. And Mitchell Marner is currently a game-time decision after an accident in practice with Wayne Simmonds.

The Leafs had a short optional skate this morning and Marner was on the ice for it, testing things out. In terms of the lines, we don't know what the roster will look like if Marner can't go, but we do know what it'll be if he's okay to play.

The Leafs

Forwards

Nick Ritchie - John Tavares - Mitchell Marner*
Michael Bunting - Alex Kerfoot - William Nylander
Pierre Engvall - David Kämpf - Ondrej Kaše
Wayne Simmonds - Michael Amadio - Jason Spezza

Defense

Morgan Rielly - TJ Brodie
Jake Muzzin - Justin Holl
Rasmus Sandin - Travis Dermott/Timothy Liljegren

Goalies

Jack Campbell - confirmed starter
Petr Mrázek

Beyond Marner, there is the question of whether Dermott or Liljegren is going to play in that 6D spot. There has been some disagreement among the reporters whether Dermott skated in that spot next to Sandin in practice the other day or if Liljegren was the primary guy. The reality is both were rotating in that spot and the winner of the opening night spot is going to be a game-time decision.

Now the decision could be taken out of Keefe’s hand if Marner can’t go. That would result in the Leafs either running 11/7, with both Dermott and Liljegren in the lineup, or Liljegren could get papered down to the Marlies and Kirill Semyonov could be called up to take that last forward spot.

If Marner can’t go, Nylander will obviously move up to the first line with his regular partner Tavares with Kaše skating next to Kerfoot. I personally don’t love any of the options to skate next to Kämpf on the third line, but it might be Semyonov himself or someone double shifting in the top six. I guess it’s a good thing a bunch of middle-six guys didn’t get traded at first blush in preseason, eh.

Pronunciation Guide

The Leafs are finally making a bigger effort in making sure the pronunciations and spellings of their players are accurate. It’s a small thing, but as someone who’s had his name misspelled or mispronounced (Har-Dev), I think it’s really nice and respectful. You might have noticed that we at PPP are following suit with our spellings of Kaše, Kämpf, and Mrázek, and I’m sure Fulemin and Arvind will do their best in the podcast as well.

Now I just hope the announcers get it right and make sure they’re consistent. Enough anglo-sizing.

The Dirty Habs

If you look at the Habs preview over at EOTP, you’ll see that there’s been a lot of turnover from last year with five players making their debuts (six if you include Drouin’s return).

Forwards

Tyler Toffoli - Nick Suzuki - Cole Caufield
Jonathan Drouin - Christian Dvorak - Josh Anderson
Joel Armia - Jake Evans - Brendan Gallagher
Jacob Perreault - Cedric Paquette - Artturi Lehkonen

Defense

Brett Kulak - Jeff Petry
Ben Chiarot - David Savard
Alexander Romanov - Chris Wideman

Goalies

Jake Allen - projected starter
Samuel Montembeault

And no, Adam Brooks is not in the top-12 of the Habs forward lineup, but he did beat out Ryan Poehling for the fifth centre job!

Welcome back to the home opener, fans, it’s been a while. And GO LEAFS GO!