Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens: Game 2
Time: 7:00 PM
Place: Scotiabank Arena
Thursday was a terrible night for fans of John Tavares and the Toronto Maple Leafs. A freak play led to the Leafs’ captain being concussed and transported to hospital. The game itself seemed like an afterthought after one of the worst scenes on-ice in recent NHL memory, but the Montreal Canadiens won it, and now the Leafs have to try and draw even in the series without one of their best and most beloved players.
It’s not going to be easy. But that’s the deal. Let’s go.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Alex Galchenyuk - Nick Foligno - William Nylander
Pierre Engvall - Alex Kerfoot - Ilya Mikheyev
Joe Thornton - Jason Spezza - Wayne Simmonds
Morgan Rielly - T.J. Brodie
Jake Muzzin - Justin Holl
Rasmus Sandin - Zach Bogosian
There’s a big John Tavares-shaped hole in that lineup, and no one can fill it. The question is how the Leafs adjust, and right now the answer seems to be for occasional centre Nick Foligno to hold down the job. William Nylander will be asked to be the offensive dynamo on the line, while Alex Galchenyuk returns to add his brand of forechecking and o-zone skill. Pierre Engvall draws in as the Leafs try to put together a solid defensive third line.
The back of the lineup is unchanged. Jack Campbell missed practice yesterday for rest but it sounds like he’s starting.
Tomas Tatar - Phillip Danault - Brendan Gallagher
Tyler Tofolli - Nick Suzuki - Joel Armia
Corey Perry - Eric Staal - Josh Anderson
Paul Byron - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Artturi Lehkonen
Joel Edmundson - Jeff Petry
Jon Merrill - Shea Weber
Brett Kulak - Ben Chiarot
The Habs lineup is mostly the same, we anticipate. The exception is that youngster Jesperi Kotkaniemi is poised to draw in for depth centre Jake Evans, who is day to day due to an undisclosed injury.
I confess I didn’t pay my usual attention to the last two periods of the first game, but I wasn’t that impressed with most of the Habs’ lineup aside from Josh Anderson, who remains a monster on the rush, and Carey Price, who made a particularly memorable lateral save on Mitch Marner. Undeniably the gap between the two lineups narrows a hell of a lot with John Tavares out, but the Leafs are capable of beating this team, without question. They just have to do it.
Go Leafs Go.