After a dream run to within three wins of the Stanley Cup, the Montreal Canadiens start their 2021-22 campaign against the team they came back against to beat in the first round of the playoffs, the Toronto Maple Leafs. The forever rivals battled it out in the postseason for the first time since 1979 so the temperature of this game will be turned up a few notches at Scotiabank Arena.
There will be a familiar face to the Leafs on the other side tonight. Centreman Adam Brooks was claimed by the Canadiens off waivers on Monday although it is likely he won’t play. The Habs submitted their 23-man roster to the league on Monday with forwards Ryan Poehling and Alex Belzile starting the season with the club but not in the lineup as the team deals with a rash of injuries. Newcomers Cedric Paquette and Mathieu Perreault are expected to make their Habs debuts up front as is defenceman Chris Wideman. The Montreal Canadiens are starting the season with 15 forwards, 6 defencemen and two goalies.
The walking wounded list for the Montreal Canadiens is a rather long one for Game 1 of the regular season. Defenceman Sami Niku skated with his teammates at practice yesterday but is still a few days away from returning from a concussion. Captain Shea Weber and Paul Byron are on long-term injured reserve although Byron did skate for the first time separate from his teammates yesterday as he recovers from off-season hip surgery.
The team also placed goaltender Carey Price on LTIR after he checked into the NHL/NHLPA’s joint player assistance program. Forward Mike Hoffman skated separate from his teammates yesterday as he recovers from a lower-body injury. Defenceman Joel Edmundson is still two weeks away from practice as he also deals with a lower-body injury. Paquette has been sidelined with a lower-body injury for much of training camp but did take line rushes with his teammates yesterday indicating he’ll be good to go tonight in Toronto.
The Montreal Canadiens lines are expected to look like this tonight against the Maple Leafs
Toffoli – Suzuki – Caufield
Drouin – Dvorak – Anderson
Armia – Evans – Gallagher
Lehkonen – Paquette – Perreault
Kulak – Petry
Chiarot – Savard
Romanov – Wideman
For the Toronto Maple Leafs, they are holding their breath on the health of forward Mitch Marner, who left yesterday’s practice for what head coach Sheldon Keefe called precautionary reasons after colliding with teammate Wayne Simmonds. Forward Ilya Mikheyev has been ruled out for between 8-10 weeks with a thumb injury. Star centreman Auston Matthews has been practicing with his teammates but is expected to miss the first three games of the season as he recovers from off-season surgery on his left wrist.
Here’s how the Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to lineup in their home opener tonight against the Habs:
Ritchie – Tavares – *Marner
Bunting – Kerfoot – Nylander
Engvall – Kampf – Kase
Amadio – Spezza – Simmonds
Reilly – Brodie
Muzzin – Holl
Sandin – Dermott
- This is the 758th regular season matchup between the two-storied franchises; 836th if you include the playoffs. The Montreal Canadiens hold a winning record of 362-295-88-12 against the Leafs all-time.
- Habs forward Brendan Gallagher is the active-leading goal-scorer against Toronto with 10 goals in 34 games; he is also one assist away from tying David Deharnais for 50th most in franchise history with 171
- Habs defenceman Jeff Petry is the active-leading points leader against the Leafs with 21 points in 34 games.
- The Habs have acquired nine players on their current roster via trade compared to the Leafs with three
- Leafs defenceman TJ Brodie is one goal away from the 50th goal of his career
- Leafs defenceman Morgan Reilly is one goal away from 100 career power play goals
How to watch: Sportsnet, TVA, ESPN+, TSN Regional
How to listen: TSN 690
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