Game 49: Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens
Time: 8:00 PM
Place: Bell Centre
The Montreal Canadiens have done their best to make it interesting, but it looks like they probably will make the playoffs as the fourth seed. If Toronto hangs on to the top spot in the Scotiabank North Division(TM), that’ll set up a first-round showdown between the two Original Six franchises of Canada. So this—as well as the three additional regular season games between these two teams—looks like a playoff preview.
And now I’m doing a preview for the playoff preview. In honour of the Habs, here’s a song about trying to resurrect a dead spirit.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Nick Foligno - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Alex Galchenyuk - John Tavares - William Nylander
Ilya Mikheyev - Alex Kerfoot - Wayne Simmonds
Joe Thornton - Adam Brooks - Jason Spezza
Morgan Rielly - T.J. Brodie
Jake Muzzin - Justin Holl
Rasmus Sandin - Travis Dermott
The toughest, meanest, dirtiest team in hockey is here to play, or at least that’s what the Winnipeg Jets seem to think of them. By this point you’re very familiar with most of this lineup. The novelty primarily comes from Nick Foligno, who looks to be performing as advertised, and Rasmus Sandin, who has again stirred hopes of a quality two-way defenceman with his quick thinking and sharp passing. I’m not sure there’ll be space left on the roster for Sandman once Zach Bogosian comes back or Ben Hutton draws in, but it bodes well for the future.
One other note: crafty depth playmaker Adam Brooks is getting some fourth-line run, though he’s probably going to be shuffled back out of the lineup once Zach Hyman and Riley Nash return from injury. This is neat, even if I gave up on him last time we did the Top 25 Prospects Ranking.
Artturi Lehkonen - Philip Danault - Josh Anderson
Tyler Toffoli - Nick Suzuki - Cole Caufield
Corey Perry - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Joel Armia
Michael Frolik - Jake Evans - Eric Staal
Ben Chiarot - Shea Weber
Joel Edmundson - Jeff Petry
Alexander Romanov - Jon Merrill
Lines are care of Arpon Basu of The Athletic.
The Canadiens have wilted badly since top forward and annoying asshole Brendan Gallagher went down with with a busted thumb. Their consolation is that they anticipate him back for the playoffs, which they remain likely to qualify for. Les Habitants have been hit by the injury bug bad of late, though; former best goalie in the world Carey Price and former best shooting percentage in the league Paul Byron are both formerly guys who were healthy but presently guys who are not. Tomas Tatar is absent for unclear reasons, and passing specialist Jonathan Drouin is taking a leave of absence from the team.
But they have Cole Caufield!
Cole Caufield! is the Canadiens’ star prospect, and while he didn’t score four goals or even one goal in his first game, he probably will be pretty good at some point soon, to judge by his sterling production as a 20-year-old in college. He’s only 5’7” and the Habs fanbase has a tendency to treat all of their prospects like the second coming of Christ for a month before tiring of them (ask Victor Mete), but I think we can agree that a scorer of Cole Caufield!’s calibre is the kind of rare talent any team would be fortunate to have. If he’s lucky, Cole Caufield! can be the next great American sniper to play for the Canadiens, and—hey, what did they do with the last one, someone remind me.
Anyway, you’re well aware of the Habs top four by now. It’s big, it’s slow aside from Jeff Petry, it’s hoping the referees don’t call obstruction penalties, it’s making the GDP of a small country well into its late thirties. The bottom pairing matches up rookie and former Emperor of Russia Alexander Romanov with Jon “Mullet In His Player Photo” Merrill.
Oh, and Jake Allen is good. Anyway, the Habs are still a decent enough team, and they have a few players who can score even if Cole Caufield! is eventually Taxied due to arcane cap minutiae. Tyler Toffoli is top five in goals or something. I can’t be bothered to look anything up at this point. I’m so tired of the regular season.
Go Leafs Go! Increase the modest chance the Habs flop out of the playoffs and Marc Bergevin does something desperate.