Leafs/Habs Preview

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    It is their second meeting this year, and the first played a big part on blinding fans for both teams in the belief that each were elite competitors. Since that opening night, the Habs have on 5-7-0, while the Leafs have gone 1-7-2. But there are always upsides, and tonight marks to start to capitalize on those specifics.

    Toronto has registered a point in each of its last 3 games. They also have 11 goals during that span, in which Jonas Gustavsson has posted an 0.891 save percentage, going 1-0-2. Tonight, Vesa Toskala will get the start and many fans are already criticizing the decision, often referring to tonight’s game in the light of “well, at least we will have 4 points in the 4 games we played this week.”

    And yet, there seems to be the return of the off-season anticipation for Toskala’s return. After undergoing surgery and recovering throughout the offseason, fans essentially gave Toskala the benefit of the doubt, hoping he would return to form this season injury free. Unfortunately for Toskala, he happened upon a team that was still trying to build its chemistry, and in turn also “turned up the suck” so to speak.

    Now, Toskala returns from another brief injury stint and there is a split amongst fans. Some are anxious to see how he plays, hoping for that “return to form” he was supposed to start the year as, while others are wondering when the team will demote him and call up Joey MacDonald to split time with Gustavsson for the remainder of the season.

    It’s the second game in as many nights for both teams, as the Habs are coming off a 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, and both teams are trying to get back into the win column. While October has not been a blessing by any means to either club, what better way to head into a fresh new month than with a win over the longest rival in the league?

    Ron Wilson believes the team is taking the right steps in becoming a competitive team, and is optimistic about the club moving forward.

    “We’ve played really well the last four or five games. We have points the last three games, we probably should have won the last five games. We just have to keep persevering. You know, help is on the way with Phil coming back next week, and maybe all the chances we’ve been able to create, he’ll be able to bury a few.”

    When asked about the team’s lack of ability to close out the games that went to overtime, Wilson felt the Leafs had just as good a chance as any team to win, and expects them to start gaining those extra points sooner than later.

    “I’m not discouraged, We’re doing a lot of things well, no one can say we’re not playing well and playing at 100%, and if we keep playing like this, the results are going to be there.”

    Injury Report:

    Andrei Markov (left ankle tendon surgery) and Ryan O’Byrne (knee) are still on injured reserve, while Matt D’Agostini (head) is doubtful for tonight’s game for the Canadiens.

    Phil Kessel (shoulder) is now listed as day to day and is expected to be in the lineup for the Leafs home game against the Lightning on Tuesday, while Mike Van Ryn (left knee surgery) is likely done for the year and listed on the team’s LTIR.

    Team Leaders:

    Montreal

    Mike Cammalleri – 13GP 6G 7A 13P +4
    Tomas Plekanec – 13GP 3G 8A 11P +4
    Scott Gomez – 13GP 2G 6A 8P -2

    Toronto

    Tomas Kaberle – 11GP 1G 12A 13P -5
    Niklas Hagman – 10GP 6G 3A 9P -4
    Matt Stajan – 10GP 3G 4A 7P -5

    Three Things to Know – MTL:

    1. Montreal has won 83.3% of all games this season when scoring first.
    2. Mike Cammalleri has 6 points in his last 4GP.
    3. Montreal has not lost a game that has required extra time.

    Three Things to Know – TOR:

    1. Leafs powerplay ranks third in the league (27.9%).
    2. Mikhail Grabovski was 10-1 in faceoffs against Sabres.
    3. Kaberle has 8 points in his last 3 games.

    I will be liveblogging tonight’s game on TheScore. If you can’t watch the game, feel free to join us for some great action on your mobile application.

    Other Articles:
    Video – Ron Wilson Sabres Post-Game
    Flames Looking for Win Against Red Wings
    Video – Machida Talks Rematch, Requires Surgery

    Micheal A. Aldred
    [email protected]

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