ROCKET SPORTS MEDIA | LAVAL, QC. — The Canadiens completed the 2020-21 common season with 5 consecutive losses. They gained solely 5 of their final 15 video games of the yr. It doesn’t encourage confidence heading into the publish season.
The Habs have eight days between recreation 56 in opposition to the Oilers and recreation 1 versus the Maple Leafs this Thursday, to be able to reset and throw the tape of the tip of the season out the window.
Toronto gained seven of the ten matches in opposition to Montreal this yr. 4 of the video games completed with a one aim differential, together with one additional time victory for every squad.
Montreal’s final playoff look was within the bubble over the summer time after they misplaced to Philadelphia within the first spherical, after defeating Pittsburgh within the qualifying spherical. Toronto misplaced to Boston of their final look in 2019.
It’s the primary time that the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs will face one another within the publish season since 1979. It is going to be thrilling to have the rivalry rekindled by the upcoming sequence.
“I grew up watching the Leafs each Saturday evening. It’s a kind of issues all through my profession, each time I bought an opportunity to play in opposition to Toronto or Montreal, these are the groups that made me fall in love with the sport,” Eric Staal mentioned in regards to the rivalry. “At this level in my profession, the chance to play them within the playoffs, it doesn’t get significantly better.
“I believe each fan bases are very pleased with their groups, and I’m positive lots of people are going to be having a variety of back-and-forth on social media,” Carey Worth added on Sunday.
Kotkaniemi and Caufield Out
Early indications from the practices held in Brossard over the weekend point out that Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Cole Caufield is not going to be on the ice in Toronto for the beginning of the sequence. During the last two days, they had been lined up with Michael Frolik on the fifth line. Dominique Ducharme cautioned on Saturday that adjustments could be made earlier than the puck drops at Scotiabank Enviornment.
I’m not stunned that Ducharme has relegated Kotkaniemi as an additional. He’s been the one participant together with Nick Suzuki to have performed all 56 video games this season. Kotkaniemi is scoreless within the final 24 video games, amassing 4 assists since throughout that stretch that started on April 1st. It has been a disappointing efficiency throughout this stretch for the 20-year previous.
Since his Nationwide Hockey League (NHL) debut on April twenty sixth, Caufield is tied for second with Tyler Toffoli with 4 objectives scored, trailing Suzuki that has scored six occasions throughout that sequence. Contemplating that Caufield has acquired important much less ice time than Suzuki and Toffoli, the quantity is spectacular.
Caufield is a pure goal-scorer. Nobody can take that away from him, and I believe he has proven in a small pattern measurement that it has the potential in translating into NHL success. The 20-year previous must proceed creating his defensive zone protection. I anticipate that Ducharme will probably slot Caufield into the lineup in recreation 3, when he has extra management on matching the rookie in beneficial conditions.
Shutting Down Matthews & Marner
To ensure that Montreal to beat Toronto within the best-of-7 sequence, they must stop Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner from being a major impression. Within the head-to-head this yr, Matthews collected 14 factors, whereas Marner collected 11 factors in 10 video games.
On the street, Maple Leafs’ coach Sheldon Keefe could have the benefit to placed on his star gamers in a beneficial matchup. “We’re going to wish our 4 trios, we’re going to wish our depth. we’re going to wish our 15 forwards, and all our defencemen to have success,” Ducharme mentioned on Sunday.
The road of Artturi Lehkonen, Jake Evans, and Paul Byron confirmed through the last stretch versus the Oilers that they could be a pressure in opposition to elite forwards.
“They’re two elite gamers. They’re superstars, so it’s regular that they choose up factors each recreation or virtually each recreation,” Philip Danault mentioned. His line with Tomas Tatar and Brendan Gallagher will probably have the duty of being matched up in opposition to Toronto’s high gamers.
“They’re the sorts of gamers who discover one another in every single place on the ice and so they get in prime place to attain objectives. It’s robust to counter. While you handle to do it, although, it’s very rewarding. It’s robust to play in opposition to them each evening. They’re glorious gamers.”
“He’s undoubtedly bought a misleading launch, and also you simply should react to it, attempt to learn it as greatest as attainable. He’s bought a world class shot, and we have to try to take that chance away from him as a lot as attainable,” analyzed Worth.
Matthews scored two objectives in 4 video games in opposition to Worth this yr, each through the February twentieth contest. Marner has additionally scored twice in opposition to the Habs’ began this season.
Time to Ship
Marc Bergevin constructed this roster for the playoffs. Since final yr’s playoff look, the overall supervisor purposely added six Stanley Cup winners to the workforce. We’ll discover out beginning Thursday if his technique will repay.
The excellent news for Montreal is that Worth, and Gallagher will probably be prepared to start out the sequence following their respective accidents that pressured them to overlook important time on the finish of the season. Each gamers had been reassigned to the Rocket for conditioning functions and can play on Monday in opposition to the Marlies.
“I’ll be good to go. You don’t placed on that sweater with out the expectation of bringing all of it to your teammates each evening. I wouldn’t put myself within the lineup if I didn’t assume I used to be going to be 100%,” mentioned Gallagher.
“[Price] is calm, he’s in management and he’s a competitor. The fellows know that he’s going to rise on the proper time, like now. The fellows know he’s going to be at his greatest. That’s why he’s bought that impression on the workforce,” mentioned Ducharme.
Shea Weber didn’t follow this weekend, nevertheless the coach is assured that the captain will probably be prepared for Thursday. Weber’s final recreation was on April twenty eighth with an undisclosed higher physique damage. (Be aware: Nobody inform the Maple Leafs in regards to the splint on his left hand that was leaked and deleted by the Canadiens social media workforce.)
I believe Toronto has the benefit over Montreal up entrance. The defence and goaltending is in Canadiens’ favour. Montreal’s greater gamers like Weber, Ben Chiarot, Joel Edmundson, and Josh Anderson might want to make life troublesome for Toronto’s forwards.
I consider the Maple Leafs will come out victorious in an extended sequence in opposition to the Habs, however contemplating Toronto’s latest playoff historical past, you’ll be able to’t rule out an upset.
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