How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EDT / 4:00 PM PDT
In Canada: CBC, Sportsnet, SN1, (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the USA: NHL Network
Elsewhere: NHL.tv / Rogers NHL Live
Is there a better way to end the regular season than a good ol’ fashioned Habs versus Leafs faceoff? Throw in Bob Cole’s very last Hockey Night in Canada broadcast and you’ve got the makings of a pretty great Saturday night.
It would have been even better if the Columbus Blue Jackets hadn’t won their game last night and a playoff appearance was still on the table, but, alas, that is not the case. The good news is we no longer have to cheer for third-rate teams to help out.
Tale of the Tape
|54.2% (4th)||Corsi-for pct.||51.7% (9th)|
|2.98 (15th)||Goals per game||3.47 (4th)|
|2.85 (13th)||Goals against per game||3.01 (17th)|
|12.9% (30th)||PP%||21.9% (8th)|
|80.8% (14th)||PK%||80.3% (16th)|
Shea Weber was the only one able to fool Braden Holtby — on the power play no less — in Tuesday night’s 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals. It wasn’t the final nail in the coffin, but a Houdini act would have been required to escape.
The only goal now is to try to prevent a season sweep at the hands of the Leafs. The Habs have been giving it all they have and throwing everything (even Artturi Lehkonen) at the net. They’re used to playing with desperation, and it’s how they got as far as they did. The Leafs are going to have to be on the lookout for Brendan Gallagher, Max Domi, and Lehkonen tonight. They each have five or six shots on goal over the past few games, so they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Toronto will be swapping their backup goaltenders, using their last recall to bring up goaltender Michael Hutchinson from the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. Garret Sparks has been backing Frederik Andersen all season, but has struggled to find his game, so he’ll be stepping away for a while to work with the goalie coaches to try to rediscover his game and confidence.
Like Montreal on Tuesday night, Toronto had a lone goal-scorer in their 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Mitch Marner was the only one to beat Andrei Vasilevskiy, prompting Mike Babcock to praise him for his play in big games and knowing how to find the right spot and how to play — perhaps subtly sending a message to the rest of the players at the same time.
What will Babcock decide to do in a not-so-big game? Rest his key players in order to try to avoid injury as they head into the playoffs, or use his full arsenal hoping to get a team that has gone 5-7-3 in its past 15 games back on the rails?
The Leafs may have a flawless record against the Canadiens this season, but they’re gearing up to take on the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs next Thursday. I think they have more important things to worry about than beating the Canadiens, so perhaps the final night of the 2018-19 season will belong to team wearing red.