As the Habs complete their offseason of preparation, they will have seven opportunities to tune-up in live action.
Tonight's game may be the most significant, as failure to leave a lasting impression may mean a swift departure to the leagues from whence many of Montreal's prospects have come. Compounded by the scarcity of jobs available in the big leagues, many would-be Habs might have more luck with purchase orders than pucks if they want a job with the Canadiens this fall.
What we already know, however, is that many of Montreal's prospects already have the power to positively impact the team. For all the prospects on the cusp of the organization, now is the time to show it.
How to Watch
Start time: 7:30 PM ET
In the Canadiens region (French): RDS
In most of Ontario (English): TSN4
Tale of the Tape
|49.7||Score-Adjusted Fenwick %||45.3|
|1.19||5v5 Goal Ratio||0.79|
*All stats are from the 2014-15 regular season.
Know Your Enemy
While the Canadiens are just getting their preseason underway, the Maple Leafs already have two preseason contests under their belts. With the training camp roster split into two halves, the Leafs took on two Ottawa Senators squads, and managed to win both games. One of several veterans looking for a fresh start in Hogtown, Canadiens' castoff P.A. Parenteau was an offensive catalyst, collecting two goals in his Buds' debut. Of course, Parenteau has the freedom of playing to prepare for the upcoming campaign, rather than to earn a contract. Vets like Curtis Glencross, Brad Boyes, and Devin Setoguchi, while likely to find themselves in the big leagues this year, have not yet officially assured themselves of a place on the team.
It remains to be seen how Mike Babcock will choose to structure his roster, but with an impressive farm system to draw from, fans tuning in tonight can expect to find at least a couple of names worth checking out. Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and Kasperi Kapanen are all in the Leafs main camp this season, and if not this year, each of the three is expected to become a pillar as the Leafs rebuild their team.
Finally, the Habs can expect a break in their opponent's crease this evening, as NHLers Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer will take the night off. Antoine Bibeau and Garret Sparks are expected to split time instead, and for Sparks especially, tonight's game represents a critical opportunity to demonstrate that he should be playing in Toronto this season. It may not be with the Maple Leafs, but stepping back to the Orlando Solar Bears may represent a terminal loss of momentum in the former Guelph Storm goaltender's career.
Last Time Out
The Canadiens and Maple Leafs finished off the 2014-15 season together, and in many ways, it was a game of lasts. For Toronto, it marked the end of another miserable season. In contrast, the game was the Canadiens clincher in the race for the Atlantic title and their final outing before the postseason.
The game also marked Phil Kessel's last tally as a Maple Leaf, as his goal preceded his trade to the Pittsburgh Penguins by just under three months.
Tonight, whether it's a prospect like Charles Hudon's crucial first step toward making the roster, or a veteran like Alex Semin's first game wearing the CH, we'll have a game of firsts.
Best of all, though, is the one first that stands above the others. For the first time in four months, the Montreal Canadiens will play hockey again.