Game Day: Montreal Canadiens Vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Game Day: Montreal Canadiens Vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Safety In A Win

7 PM in Toronto, Ontario

At the Air Canada Centre

It’s the final regular season game for both the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs. While the Leafs are just playing out the string the Habs are hoping to go into the playoffs with some momentum and a need to stay healthy. So tonight not only is about getting the win but also about staying away from any stupidity. I am sure coach Martin is telling his players not to start anything and not to get into any fights, especially tonight as some of the Leafs might be playing their last game in the blue and white and others will be playing their first games. It’s the last Saturday of the regular season, it’s Montreal Toronto, it’s Hockey Night in Canda and it’s the last chance for Toronto to leave it’s mark so expect some sort of fireworks.

Who Is This Game More Important To?

Currently, Montreal is in sixth place tied with the Buffalo Sabres on 94 points. Buffalo also has one game remaining and they play tonight in Columbus. Sixth place most likely means playing the Boston Bruins in the first round and conversely seventh place would mean facing the Philadelphia Flyers. Pick your poison would be the ideal statement here. Forgetting about standings and playoff match-ups, it’s always nice to go into to playoffs on high with some momentum so look for the Habs to come out skating hard and hopefully putting the game away early.

Toronto were only officially eliminated from the playoffs this week. If you ask any diehard Leaf fan they will be optimistic about how the team has played and progressed in the second half of the season. The same fan will be pessimistic about seeing this same pattern for the past six years. So is this game important to the Leafs – absolutely. Its Saturday night and it’s the Habs. Anytime Montreal rolls in you can throw out the standings and the previous games and you will always get a big effort by anyone wearing the blue and white. Add in the fact that the Leafs will have some new bodies on the ice tonight – there will definitely be a buzz in the air.

What Is Being Talked About At The Air Canada Centre?

For the Leafs it’s all about a call up and a new signing. Joe Colburne and Matt Frattin will be making their NHL debuts tonight in front of their home crowd. My colleague Blue and White Bubble goes in depth about both in the recent blog “Frattin, Jumbo Junior Get The Call…Leafs Turn The Page”. No doubt Colburne who came over in the Kaberle trade with the Bruins and Frattin a Hobey Baker finalist will be watched and focused on.

The only other buzz for the Leafs has been the discussion of whom will be playing in May. And by May I don’t mean the NHL playoffs but the World Championships. Assistant GM Dave Nonis of the Leafs is running this year entry for Canada and is bound to call up some of his own players. Dion Phaneuf and Luke Schenn will get the call but there has been a growing swell to select James Reimer. And why shouldn’t Nonis call up his own goaltender. Playing against the best in the world is the easiest way to gain experience and to get better. Kulemin and Grabovski have already accepted invitations from Russia and Belarus respectively.

All the Habs want is a win and nothing else. They don’t need injuries, suspensions or any other controversy. Jaroslav Spacek will get another chance to stretch his legs and get back into some sort of game shape before the playoffs.

Who To Watch On The Leafs?

The New Leafs Colburne and Frattin will be scrutinized on every shift. Colburne will be centering Kessel and Lupul. Could he be the number one centre the Leafs are looking for? Toronto as a whole have been hot during the past 10 games and there are a host of players who have been padding the stat sheet but it’s James Reimer that should be focused on. He is 7-2-1 in his last ten starts with a 2.24 GAA and is looking for his 21st win in only his 37th start. There are a lot of eyes on coach Ron Wilson. The media, pundits and the fans are split on whether to bring the coach back or not. GM Brian Burke has publically stated that Wilson will back but fans are wondering how long can they stay with a coach who hasn’t led the team into the playoffs.

Who To Watch On The Canadiens?

Some of the so-called stars have decided to step up as the season winds down. Cammalleri and Gionta have played much better with the captain enjoying the return of Mathieu Darche. Kostitsyn has continued his excellent work rate and has decided to make himself into on of the most dependable Habs game in and game out. Unfortunately, the same can not be said of Scott Gomez. He shows flashes of his ability but has consistently been the most under achieving Hab throughout. Carey Price who has won his last two games goes for his 38th win and hopefully will solidify himself as a Vezina trophy candidate.

Most Recent Game:

Montreal are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators with Gionta and Cammalleri scoring a goal a piece. Alex Auld got the start in place of Price making 29 saves. Toronto lost their last game to the New Jersey Devils 4-2 with Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel beating Martin Brodeur.

Facts Of The Night:

If Mikhail Grabovski scores a goal tonight he will join Phil Kessel and Nikolai Kulemin as the third 30 goal scorer for the Leafs. The last time that happened was when Doug Gilmour, Mike Gartner and Mats Sundin all wore the blue and white. The Canadiens also signed a prospect this week. They inked left winger Alain Berger to a three year deal. Berger just completed his second season with the Oshawa Generals and is a 6’4”, 209 lbs. Swiss born player. The Habs scouts must be working hard in Switzerland as Alain is now following in the footsteps of Yanik Weber and Mark Streit. Mathieu Darche has been nominated for the Bill Masterton trophy by the Montreal chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. The trophy is awarded annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the game. The Canadiens and Geoff Molson have brought in Kevin Gilmore, who is a Los Angelas based lawyer, to be Molson’s right hand man and his COO. Gilmore will be responsible for corporate sales, marketing, communications and major projects.

Key Injuries:

There aren’t any notable injuries for the Leafs and other than the long term ones for the Habs only Jeff Halpern is day to day with the ever-popular lower body injury.

The game starts at 7pm and will be broadcast on RDS and CBC

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Shahab Khan (the Schoolboy)