The Montreal Canadiens (0-5) are looking for their first preseason win of the year versus the Toronto Maple Leafs (3-1).
The Canadiens are having some difficulty keeping their fanbase calm after they racked up another preseason loss – by a 5-1 score – against a very soft Chicago Blackhawks lineup.
The Canadiens made a number of cuts today:
Mac Bennett, Nicolas Blanchard, Tim Bozon, Travis Brown, Connor Crisp, Josiah Didier, Markus Eisenschmid, Stefan Fournier, Zachary Fucale, Ryan Johnston, Brett Lernout, Mark MacMillan, Brandon McNally, Angelo Micelli, Eddie Pasquale, Dalton Thrower, Jamal Watson were sent to their respective clubs today.
Some player notes before today’s game…
James van Riemsdyk – JVR is looking to build upon his solid performance versus Ottawa. Obviously, he will need to earn back the trust of management and prove he can be counted upon as a leader who exhibits a good work ethic and a commitment to team defense. Last season was a disaster disguised as a 28-goal season for JVR; he needs to get better everywhere this year, to state the obvious.
Tyler Bozak – The always-controversial center will surely have a lot of eyes on him this season, his first away from Phil Kessel. Equally as frustrating as JVR was, he needs to show he can play a two-way game and thrive in an extremely important role for the club, especially considering the exacting demands Babcock puts on his centermen.
Devin Setoguchi – Hasn’t look bad so far, but he has not stood out. He’s got a good opportunity ahead of him tonight playing with two veterans with offensive skill on the team’s de facto first line.
Leo Komarov – Uncle Leo remains with youngster William Nylander, presumably to add a bit of sandpaper to the forecheck and some defensive posture to the line. They looked good in stretches versus Montréal the last game. That game plus a few practices should hopefully help generate some chemistry.
William Nylander – Looking to build upon his good performance versus Montréal the last outing. Things to look for: better positioning and more attention to detail defensively. He’s been strong on faceoffs all preseason, so that’s not much of a concern. He’s going to have to bear down on his one-on-one battles versus Montréal’s NHL regulars to show that he can handle the rigours of an NHL season against grown men.
Zach Hyman – Pretty quiet preseason so far from Hyman. The college standout needs to play a stronger game all around. He has a chance to play with a defensively responsible forward in Komarov and a skilled center in Nylander. They should be getting second line minutes, so there should be some opportunity for him.
Shawn Matthias – This has the makings of a good third line. Matthias offers a big frame, can skate, and has some finish to his game. His pairing with Holland sounds good on paper, so I’m sure coaching and management will be keeping a close eye on these two. If they can anticipate each other’s actions well down low, this could be an effective line on the cycle; both are rangy with good size and reach, and they can put the puck in the net.
Peter Holland – He started the preseason slowly, but got better in his last outing. It will be interesting to see if Holland thrives under Babcock and becomes a more determined two-way centerman who the Leafs can count on. He says all the right things, but he’ll need to play with little more bite to his game to allow his reasonable offensive skill set to shine through.
Brad Boyes – Had a nice feed from him to Jake Gardiner for the game-winner in his last time out versus Montreal. His line tonight will probably play at a slower pace, which may suit Boyes a bit better. Boyes’ urgency should start ramping up considering he’s a veteran looking for a contract.
Curtis Glencross – Same situation as Boyes, but not in the same position to succeed based on the lines tonight. Froese will be playing for the Marlies shortly, as will Kapanen. It would be nice to see Glencross with NHL players and find out what he might be able to provide to the Leafs.
Byron Froese – Was a nice addition to the Toronto Marlies last year, and credit to him for holding on this long. It’s worth seeing if he might find some chemistry with Kapanen, as they might play together on Marlies at points throughout the season.
Kasperi Kapanen – Looking to see if he can make more of an impact and deliver a consistent effort shift to shift. Lots of offensive skill here, but he needs to be more determined in his one-on-one battles (as most young players do).
Jake Gardiner – Doesn’t have the best of defensive partners, but he will be looked upon to provide his usual speed and mobility from the backend. Mike Babcock said he was the Leafs‘ best player on Tuesday versus the Canadiens. The coaching staff will be looking for him to play a stiffer game and exhibit more consistent decision-making with regards to his defensive positioning and reading of plays.
Stephane Robidas – The veteran still has a chance to stay on the team due to the fact that he is one of only two right shots. Happy with his offseason of training, he will need to show he can play with more pace than last season. Last year also saw him get pancaked at least once game, so he’ll need to be able to spin off checks better to avoid injury.
Martin Marincin – He’s not pretty, but he’s effective. He is in the battle for the open bottom pairing left side position, and will have his game stacked up against Scott Harrington, Viktor Loov and Stuart Percy throughout the rest of preseason.
Roman Polak – Perhaps it was a veteran shaking off rust and getting up to speed, but his usually underrated straight-line speed looked to be a notch slow last game. If combined with his awkward footwork and pivots—to go along with his limited puck skills—it won’t put him in good stead on a team that is preaching to play the game at the very fast pace. Polak is lauded for his ability to play a man’s game defensively off the rush, down low, in front of the net and after the whistle, but he’s going to need to find another gear to thrive under Babcock.
TJ Brennan -The AHL star has not transitioned well to the NHL yet. He is vying for an NHL job in that bottom-pairing left-shot grouping. It isn’t a slam dunk that he goes back to the AHL as he will get a look as a more veteran option for the spot. He’s certainly not placed in a position to succeed with Mark Fraser — who did Travis Dermott no favours last time out.
Mark Fraser – Curious as to why he was given the invite in the first place and why he still remains a part of the team. The game is too fast for him and he’s not able to make simple plays fast enough to get the puck moving forward. His 5-6 foot passes are being put into feet and shinpads, and he looks like he’s handling a grenade with the pin pulled when under pressure. He’s ferociously strong and sticks up for his teammates, but that’s about all he offers right now. Not totally sure he could play in the AHL all that effectively, either.
James Reimer – It was not a great game from Reimer in his last outing. Look for more composure while tracking pucks through traffic and less scrambling.
Toronto Maple Leafs Projected LineupToronto Maple Leafs vs Montreal Canadiens Projected Lineup
September 26th, 2015
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|Left Defence||Right Defence|