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Game #7 Preview: It’s gut check time for the Leafs

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Can the Leafs exorcise recent playoff demons and win their first playoff series in nearly two decades?

NHL: Calgary Flames at Toronto Maple Leafs Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Game #7: Montreal Canadiens @ Toronto Maple Leafs
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Place: Scotiabank Arena
TV: CBC, SN, CNBC

The two words every hockey fan loves to hear: game seven. That is, of course, unless it’s your team playing in game seven. Especially when said team gave up a 3-1 series lead to get to this point.

That’s how every Leafs fan is feeling right now. Or, I would assume that’s how every Leafs fan is feeling. On the other side of the coin, though, the Habs have to be feeling ecstatic to be in this position. To force a decisive game seven after looking dead in the water less than a week ago.

Rewind the clock six days. That’s the last time Toronto won a game in this series. That win, though, was a dominating one. The Leafs dominated Montreal to the tune of a 4-0 win. Jack Campbell stopped all 32 shots he faced. The veterans Jason Spezza and Joe Thornton both scored as part of a three-goal second period. All seemed right in the hockey world.

It’s amazing how momentum works in the playoffs. Back-to-back games in which Montreal won in overtime sets up game seven. When you think about how crazy hockey is, it only takes a bounce of the puck in either direction to change the outcome of an overtime game. That did not happen for the Leafs and here we are: game seven.

Toronto is going to be looking to change their fate tonight. As it’s been well documented, the Leafs are facing yet another game seven in the first-round. This is the third time in four years and the Leafs have to be wondering what they can do to exorcize the demons of the past and get over this hump.

One thing the Leafs have to do is get off to a better start in the first period. Not only have they been outplayed by the Habs in the first period all series long, there have been times Toronto looks like they’d rather be anywhere but on the ice. Montreal has outscored the Leafs 4-1 in the first period. This is the type of game that an early lead by either team could prove a huge advantage going forward.

The problem could be in goal for the Habs. Although he hasn’t been great this season, Carey Price is a former Hart and Vezina trophy winner. He’s been through this before and knows what to expect. The Leafs will have to get traffic in front of the net and hope to get some deflections past the netminder.

Maple Leafs Projected Lines

Some configuration changes might get made at game time.

Forwards
Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Alex Galchenyuk - Nick Foligno - William Nylander
Ilya Mikheyev - Alex Kerfoot - Wayne Simmonds
Joe Thornton - Pierre Engvall - Jason Spezza

Defence
Morgan Rielly - T.J. Brodie
Travis Dermott - Justin Holl
Rasmus Sandin - Zach Bogosian

Goalies
Jack Campbell
Frederik Andersen

Canadiens Projected Lines

No changes in personnel are expected.

Forwards
Jake Evans - Phillip Danault - Brendan Gallagher
Tyler Toffoli - Nick Suzuki - Cole Caufield
Paul Byron - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Josh Anderson
Joel Armia - Eric Staal - Corey Perry

Defence
Ben Chiarot - Shea Weber
Joel Edmundson - Jeff Petry
Brett Kulak - Erik Gustafsson

Goalies
Carey Price
Jake Allen

Poll

Who Wins Game 7?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    Leafs
    (300 votes)
  • 41%
    Habs
    (214 votes)
514 votes total Vote Now