Game #6: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Montreal Canadiens
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Place: Bell Centre, Montreal
TV: CBC, SN, NBCSN
No, this isn’t the last chance for the Maple Leafs to win their series against the Habs, but I don’t even want think about going to a game #7 in the first round this year.
This series needs to end tonight, and what better night to end it than the night where a few thousand Habs fans will be in attendance after the Quebec government authorised them to witness their team go down in flames? Though this has also led to the unfortunate media COVID-hockey crossover questions about “How will it feel to play in front of fans again?”, asked multiple times at every press event.
Jason Spezza had the best of the frustrated and sarcastic replies.
Jason Spezza on preparing to play in front of ~hostile fans~ tomorrow for the first time in awhile:— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) May 28, 2021
"The good news for us is we've played in front of people before, so we should be comfortable with it."
In any case, this is the perfect time to close off this series and move on, and they will move on quickly; the second round literally starts tonight in Boston while this Leafs game is underway.
Speaking of people in the stands, Rasmus Sandin will join them there tonight after the defence prospect showed his inexperience on more than one disastrous shift in the previous game. Travis Dermott will be back in as his replacement according to Coach Sheldon Keefe.
Nick Foligno is in the same boat for today’s game as he was on Thursday, where he went out for the warmup and then realised he was not ready to play through his injury that night. We’ll have to wait and see what happens for him at game time tonight, and if Alex Kerfoot will once more have to step up into his role if he remains out; something we have seen he can do, but it’s certainly not ideal.
Playoff Kerfoot filling big gaps in the lineup
Maple Leafs Projected Lines
The Leafs basically invited everyone to practice today. Even Denis Malgin. Remember Malgin?
Riley Nash and Denis Malgin have joined the morning skate, wearing grey extras unis,— David Alter (@dalter) May 29, 2021
Keefe is having fun keeping Dominique Ducharme guessing at what his line up will be. This is a very Keefe thing to do, too. He did it a lot as the coach of the Marlies in the Calder Cup playoffs when their roster would expand so large it needed two pages to list all the players. Who knows, maybe even Nick Robertson will make a shock return for the playoffs again! Where is he anyway? He vanished from the Marlies roster after their game on May 12th and never resurfaced for their final seven games, or since for practices with the Leafs, at least as far as I can tell. I can’t figure out exactly what happened except perhaps he was injured.
In either case, this is a very tentative lineup and will probably have at least one change in the minutes before the start of the game.
Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Alex Galchenyuk - Nick Foligno - William Nylander
Ilya Mikheyev - Alex Kerfoot - Wayne Simmonds
Joe Thornton - Pierre Engvall - Jason Spezza
Adam Brooks was at practice today an will presumably slot in as the fourth line center if Foligno is out, with Kerfoot and Engvall each bumped up one line.
Morgan Rielly - T.J. Brodie
Jake Muzzin - Justin Holl
Travis Dermott - Zach Bogosian
Canadiens Projected Lines
The Canadiens are likely sticking with what worked last game from a lineup perspective. The only change we know of for certain from the last game is on the third pair defence.
Dominique Ducharme says Jon Merrill is injured and will be out one or two weeks. Brett Kulak comes in. Forward changes will be at game time.— Arpon Basu (@ArponBasu) May 29, 2021
Tomas Tatar - Phillip Danault - Brendan Gallagher
Tyler Toffoli - Nick Suzuki - Cole Caufield
Paul Byron - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Josh Anderson
Joel Armia - Eric Staal - Corey Perry
Ben Chiarot - Shea Weber
Joel Edmundson - Jeff Petry
Brett Kulak - Erik Gustafsson
It’s Saturday night and the game is on Hockey Night in Canada. Let’s get this series put away tonight on national TV, and stay alive for round two against the Winnipeg Jets.