Hope you’ve all been enjoying a day chock full of awkward interviews on CBC.
The main event gets underway in about an hour as the Leafs take on the Habs at the Bell Centre in their second meeting this season. At the quarter point of the season, the Leafs could pass the Habs in the division and conference standings with a win and pull into a tie with the Senators after their 1-0 loss to the Jets this afternoon.
In terms of line changes for the Leafs tonight, Jonas Siegel reports that Leo Komarov may see a promotion to the second line with Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin, who need to follow the first line’s lead from Thursday and get back on the scoresheet. Leo Komarov has been a positive influence no matter where he’s played so far this season and hopefully will add a spark to the line with his relentless forechecking energy (if he’s indeed moving up). Jay McClement would likely head back down to fourth line center in that case.
Korbinian Holzer and J-M Liles saw their minutes shoot up against Winnipeg and it will be interesting to see if Randy Carlyle is starting to move away from such a heavy reliance on Mike Kostka in favour of another recent AHL graduate in Holzer, who played nearly 24 minutes. Interestingly, Carlyle only seems comfortable giving Franson, who now has 5 points in 8 games, last pairing TOI; I can’t make the argument against a sheltered role with high offensive zone starts based on his proneness to errors in defensive coverage. On the upside, and as discussed before, has been excellent working the opposition’s blueline, with understated puck moving abilities and a knack for getting shots through, and deserves continued PP time.
The Habs have been better than expected thanks of course in large part to Carey Price (6-2, .936SV%) and the resurgence of Andrei Markov. Rookies Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk have been early contributors while Pleckanec, Rafael Diaz and Markov have produced at a point a game pace through 10. The Leafs can expect a stiffer test than what they faced in their first visit to the Bell Centre earlier this season.