Tonight, two of NHL’s biggest Canadian rivals face off on the ice. Canadiens had a shaky pre-season adventure and will be looking to get themselves in gear with their new captain Nick Suzuki heading the team.
Toronto Maple Leafs had a more productive Pre-Season with some excellent play against the Canadiens. Salary caps remain an issue though.
The Canadiens will have a lot to proof in the new season, both with their performance in the Pre-season and working in their new talent.
Regarding the topsy turvy Pre-Season, Canadiens lost all their games. Toronto Maple Leafs proved to be a real challenge for them. In their first game, the Canadiens lost 0 – 3 to the Maple Leafs, followed by a 1 – 5 loss days later.
Where they got close was when they faced Ottawa Senators in GAME 1. Despite taking the lead with 2 goals from Pitlick in the first period, it was a goal from DeBrincat in AOT (After Over Time) that secured the win 5 – 4 for Senators.
How will Nick Suzuki fair? The 23-year-old joined Montreal Canadiens in September, becoming the team’s 31st captain. He’ll take to the ice for the first time in the Canadiens strip facing their longtime rival the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs had a very productive Pre-Season, winning 5 of their 7 games. Their biggest dominance was against the Canadiens (mentioned above), while their biggest challenge were the Ottawa Senators.
The opening of the season saw them beat Senators 4 – 1 in Game 1 and losing 2 – 4 in Game 2. They managed to regroup in Game 3, managing to score 3 goals in the first period from Robertson, Aube-Kubel and Mete before bookending the game with goals from Malgin, Robertson and Holl.
What impact will having to hit the $3m cap cause for the team? The team managed to get within $4 of the salary cap on players competing in the team, not having to lose any in the process but they face issues with their lines and a possible reluctance to trade big cost players.
Players like Alex Kerfoot and Jake Muzzin remain in the team despite their price. Their cheaper replacements exist in the team, so why not swap? Maple Leafs already have a reputation for swapping out for younger and cheaper.
Hoarding and flexibility are important but it’s going to be a struggle going into the playoffs.
Who do you think will win?