"I know that being the coach of the Montreal Canadiens is one of the highest pressure jobs in professional sports in North America. I wouldn't be standing here answering questions today, if I wasn't ready for the challenge."
- Pat Burns after being named Canadiens head coach, June 1, 1988.
It is fitting that the Toronto Maple Leafs are visiting the Montreal Canadiens tonight. Pat Burns, who succumbed to cancer Friday afternoon, is one of two coaches to ever coach both the Habs and Leafs. The other was Dick Irvin, Sr. who also died of cancer.
The family is asking that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his name to:
220 Rue Kennedy Nord,
The Hamilton Bulldogs and Toronto Marlies held a moment of silence in honor of Pat Burns before this afternoon's game at the Ricoh Colliseum.
Burns coached the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Final in his rookie year, and led the Leafs to the Campbell Confernce Final in 1993.
Reaction from current Habs players that Burns coached in Boston, Toronto and New Jersey.
As per HabsInsideOut, the Canadiens will have a tribute to Burns just after 7pm. It will be covered by both Hockey Night In Canada and RDS and both networks will have tributes throughout the game.
Someone threw a bug in my ear a few weeks ago, "The Canadiens haven't won a season series against the Leafs since 1998, eat it!" I'll take the person's comment as valid, given his wide knowledge of the Blue and White's history.
Tuesday, Toronto rallied from a 4-1 deficit and capitalized on a 5-3 power play to win it 5-4. Thursday they took the Devils 3-1 in a game that showed Martin Brodeur's elbow was not 100%, with the New Jersey netminder leaving after the second period.
In the first meeting of the season between the Canadiens and Leafs, Toronto took the season opener by a 3-2 decision thanks to the goaltending of Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
This time around, we should see Jonas Gustavsson, with Giguere on the shelf with a groin injury. Carey Price is expected to get his 19th start of the season for Montreal.
After a quick start, that had their fans planning the parade route, the Leafs came back to reality, having gone without a win in eight previous games before Tuesday. During that slump, they managed just 12 goals.
The Leafs on the stat board are full of ups and downs. They are amongst the lead leaders in fewest shots allowed, thanks to their top-10 placing in hits, blocked shots and faceoffs.
The downside is that they are the worst in giveaways, by a large margin, and sit in the bottom five on the penalty kill and goals for-per-game.
Rookie Nazem Kadri has three assists, in three games for the Leafs, since being called up last week.
Injury wise, the Habs will not have to deal with Colby Armstrong (broken finger) and captain Dion Phaneuf (leg) when they meet up tonight.
LEAFS PROBABLE LINEUP
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Nazem Kadri - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Fredrik Sjostrom - John Mitchell - Kris Versteeg
Mike Brown - Tim Brent -Colton Orr
Mike Komisarek - Francois Beauchemin
Luke Schenn - Tomas Kaberle
Carl Gunnarsson - Keith Aulie
Jonas Gustavsson - James Reimer
The Canadiens are hoping to stop the bleeding early, after Thursday's loss to the Predators. Coach Jacques Martin called out his top players after the game, and with five games in the next eight nights,he doesn't want the meltdown to continue.
"It wasn't the Xs and Os that were the problem (Thursday)," Martin said. "It was a lack of intensity, determination and a desire to win those tough battles and go into high-traffic areas that cost us."
Yannick Weber will dress as a seventh defenseman, and will play point on the power play and take Mathieu Darche's spot on the Jeff Halpern line. Weber was called up from the Hamilton Bulldogs on Thursday.
The Habs have lost their last four straight against Toronto (4-0-1), and Price has won just one of his last five starts against the Leafs.
CANADIENS PROBABLE LINEUP
- - Yannick Weber
- Alexandre Picard
Carey Price ,
FOLLOW THE LEAFS NATION'S GAME RESPONSE AT Pension Plan Puppets
A look back: At the Leafs-Canadiens rivalry in the '60s
Trivia: Who was the first player to play for both the Canadiens and Leafs?
Did you know?
When he became coach of the Montreal Canadiens, Pat Burns issued Breathayizer tests on his players.
A former police officer, Burns reportedly asked his players to consume some liquor, and then took them to a police station.
All of the players failed the Breathalyzer.
"The police don't want to hear your story,"Burns told his players. "All they care about is that you've killed somebody with your car."
Having made his point, alcohol was banned on team flights.
- source Mike Loftus, Quincy Patriot Ledger, April 15, 1989
Bulldogs lose to Marlies 4-3 in a shootout: Max Pacioretty had a hat trick and a shootout goal, in a losing cause. David Desharnais had two assists. Full game report. The two teams square off again tomorrow at Copps Colliseum at 1 pm. CBC will have the game live.