There’s 21 games left in Canadiens’ and Maple Leafs’ respective seasons and the original six rivals are neck and neck in the Atlantic Division standings.
With Ottawa beginning to fall off (trail the Leafs by eight points), this is a tightly-contested division between 2nd and 5th in the Atlantic. The Habs (73) hold second place over the Lightning and Leafs by two points, with the Red Wings five points back and surging of late (6-2-2 in L10). The Leafs could pull even for 2nd in the Atlantic with a win over Montreal tonight, which is a pretty good place to be with 20 games to go.
The concerning signs are also present, between the team’s subpar road record (11-12-6) and failure to show any signs of shoring up the defensive end of the rink as the season has gone along. The Leafs are 10-2-2 in their last fourteen thanks to an offensive resurgence to the tune of 55 goals in 14 games (a 3.8 goals-per-game clip), but after conceding five to the Islanders have also conceded 44 over that span for a 3.1 goals-against-per-game average. That’s no better from a defensive standpoint than the 30-plus game stretch in which they only won five games in regulation or overtime.
With Dave Bolland remaining on LTIR and still not ready to return, Peter Holland has been recalled this morning. He’ll likely line up between Mason Raymond and Nikolai Kulemin on line three tonight while Kulemin returns to the wing. The top six will remain in tact, while Carlyle will have options on the fourth line. He could either play McClement, Smith and Bodie on line 4, or sit one of Smith or Bodie and dress seven defencemen. Paul Ranger scored last game, was a plus-1 despite five goals against and played 1:50 on the penalty kill, so the 7D scenario seems more likely.
Leafs fans have good memories of Reimer bringing it against Montreal, winning three of four against the Habs since the Gionta incident. But with the stakes high in these final 20 games, Carlyle is hesitant to risk Reimer coming in cold and will likely be rolling with his number one save for back to back sets. Bernier is 1-3 lifetime against the Habs, but did pick up the victory in the teams’ last meeting, a 5-3 back in mid January.
Carey Price, still riding his shutout streak from the Olympics, will not play tonight after picking up a lower-body injury. Peter Budaj will start for the Canadiens. He stopped 16 of 17 in his last meeting with the Leafs in the final regular season game of the 2012-13 season (the loss that led to the Leafs meeting the Bruins in the first round).
The Habs are a bottom 10 offence in both goals and shots for, with their leading points scorers (tied between Pacioretty and Subban) at only 39 points on the season. They have, however, scored 10 goals over 3 games against the Leafs. The Leafs have scored 11 versus Montreal and lead the season series 2-1-0. The rivals will meet once more on March 22 in Toronto.
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Don't care how they do it....doesn't even have to be pretty......Big two points in regulation...GO LEAFS GO!!!
Corey Pronman @coreypronman
Well I guess if LaFontaine didn't want to do that trade, and instead extend a 33 year old goalie on a bottom team, probably best end for BUF
@Jay31 No kidding.
@Cameron19 pretty sure he was never comfortable there from the beginning
@TheCanucksnaphook So .... everyone is pissed in Buffalo ??? whats going on ?
Chris Johnston @reporterchris 1m
Pat LaFontaine resigns. My column from the day after his hiring noted that he wasn't in a position to succeed: http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/pat-lafontaine-hardly-in-position-to-succeed-with-buffalo-sabres/ …
@rustynail Mike Gillis, burning bridges since 2009
@rustynail I hear Pierre Gauthier is a good executive........bahahahahahaha
@Belfour20 I'll take 2 please
@Jordan29 because you won't be full of hot air anymore? ;)
@Bon Scott was a Leaf fan Fuc now I want china
@Bon Scott was a Leaf fan Basically, whatever I could find in the freezer....without having to do much of anything....not feeling well and didn't shop this week......pizza, jalapeno poppers, wings.....the Boys will love it......me, not so much.....going with soup and toast
@Bon Scott was a Leaf fan HABS ON THE BARBY!
@Bon Scott was a Leaf fan I'm feasting on Montreal tears for dinner tonight fellas!!!!
@Bon Scott was a Leaf fan Chili cheese fries... both cooking right now! and cold cold beer
@Bon Scott was a Leaf fan wings and chips with abunch of appetizers
@Bon Scott was a Leaf fan I had Habanerios. Probably dont know what it is but its a sick burrito place kind of like subway that Im pretty much enjoying more then a bag of blow on a navy boat out at sea
@Bon Scott was a Leaf fan Burgers on the Barby
I just think it's going to be a rough night tonight in Montreal. Where Grabo biting people when you need him.
@mcloki I thought he was one of the most effective D last game