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Canadiens Pre Game

Canadiens Game 76: Blueline Injuries Lead To Emergency Recall

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Montreal Canadiens Toro

The Montreal Canadiens (29-34-12) are set to host the Toronto Maple Leafs (43-23-9) at the Bell Centre. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm ET.

With just seven games left in the regular season, there’s not much to fight for in the standings from a Canadiens perspective. Of course, some will push back on that theory, as the team could end up picking up enough points to weaken their Draft Lottery odds.

But even if the Canadiens have no hopes of qualifying for the 2024 NHL playoffs, there’s always pride on the line when the team faces the Leafs. The Habs lost both meetings against Toronto this season, with one game being decided in the shootout, and the other by just one goal.

If the Canadiens are to ensure the Leafs do not sweep the season series, they’ll have to play the type of game that will keep a team with a variety of potent offensive weapons on their heels. This means a complete effort from every player during every shift.

Of course, the top line of Juraj Slafkovsky, Nick Suzuki, and Cole Caufield are expected to lead the charge, but Martin St-Louis’ team will also need secondary and tertiary scoring, which has rarely been the case this season. Players like Joel Armia, Alex Newhook, and Brendan Gallagher will have to play mistake-free hockey, while veterans like Josh Anderson and Jake Evans will have to push their game to the next level.

There are a few changes expected tonight, as Kaiden Guhle and Arber Xhekaj are sidelined with upper-body injuries. Both players are considered day-to-day.

Consequently, the Habs proceeded to recall Justin Barron from the AHL on an emergency basis. Barron scored his second goal of the season in the AHL last night when the Laval Rocket lost 3-1 to the Syracuse Crunch.

In other lineup news, Johnathan Kovacevic will return to the lineup, while Jesse Ylonen heads to the pressbox to make way for Tanner Pearson.

MUST READ: Canadiens Analysis: Suzuki’s Breakout Year & Future Projections

As for the Leafs, they’re in the midst of a mediocre run of late, as evidenced by their 5-4-1 record in the last 10 games. But despite the inconsistent results, Toronto qualified for the playoffs on Friday, as they are sitting comfortably in third place in the Atlantic Division.

The Habs will have to keep a close eye on Auston Matthews, as the superstar centre is enjoying the best season of his career, with 63 goals and 36 assists in 74 games. Another way of looking at it would be that Matthews has more goals than any player in the Canadiens lineup has points, except for Nick Suzuki.

Beyond Matthews, the Canadiens will have to contend with the usual cast of talented forwards, including Mitch Marner, who is making his return to play after missing several games with a lower-body injury.

Matthew Knies is no longer playing on the top line due to his relatively underwhelming results this season, but he has registered four assists in the last five games, which means he’s a player the Canadiens cannot afford to ignore.

Former Canadiens defenceman Joel Edmundson is injured and is not expected to participate in Saturday’s showdown.

Montreal Canadiens Injuries

  • Carey Price (IR)
  • Chris Wideman (IR)
  • Kirby Dach (out indefinitely, ACL/MCL)
  • Christian Dvorak (day-to-day)
  • Joshua Roy (4-6 weeks)

Toronto Maple Leafs Injuries

  • Joel Edmundson (out)
  • Timothy Liljegren (out)
  • Matt Murray (IR)
  • Calle Jarnkrok (IR)
  • Ty Voit (out)
  • Jake Muzzin (IR)
  • John Klingberg (IR)

 

Montreal Canadiens Projected Lineup

LWCRW
Cole CaufieldNick SuzukiJuraj Slafkovsky
Brendan GallagherAlex NewhookJoel Armia
Jesse YlonenJake EvansJosh Anderson
Michael PezzettaChristian DvorakRafael Harvey-Pinard
LDRD
Mike MathesonJustin Barron
Lane HutsonDavid Savard
Jordan HarrisLogan Mailloux
Goalie
Samuel Montembeault
Cayden Primeau

 

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lineup

Bertuzzi – Matthews – Domi

McMann – Tavares – Marner*

Knies – Holmberg – Nylander

Dewar – Kampf – Reaves

Defence

Rielly – Lyubushkin

Benoit – McCabe

Giordano – Brodie

Goalie

Samsonov

 

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