Canadiens vs Maple Leafs - Game Preview
The Canadiens have lost two straight while the Leafs have won two in a row, but it's the Habs who are actually playing well.
The last matchup between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens was the typically disappointing season opener, wherein the Leafs won 2-1, and neither team scored an even strength goal.
Since then, the Canadiens are 6-2-1, the Leafs 5-5-0. The teams couldn't be much further apart as performance goes, as the Leafs look like a clear bottom dweller who just happen to be getting lucky out of the gates.
One person who hasn't been so lucky out of the gates though, is Phil Kessel. He finally scored last game, but he has just 1 goal on 46 shots this season, and has yet to score at home.
The Canadiens on the other hand have been dominant, especially at home. The Habs have been an insanely dominant 70.24% Fenwick tied team on home ice, tops in the league by a wide margin. Meanwhile Toronto has been the NHL's worst road team with a 35.71% Fenwick tied. It seems then, that the odds are stacked in Montreal's favour. However somehow the Leafs have a 5-1-0 record on the road.
But the numbers never seem to matter with Montreal and Toronto. The Habs have been a better team than the Leafs for a long time now, but the season series always ends up even. This season though, there are an odd number of games in the season series, so there will be one clear winner.
That makes this game very important for the Canadiens, since it's the last game of the season series that will be played on home ice. The remaining three will be in on the road, where the Canadiens have been substantially weaker.
There is also the danger of falling too far behind challengers for the Northeast division title if the Canadiens lose today. A third loss in a row would nearly erase the excellent start Michel Therrien has created.
With Ryan White a healthy scratch for his dumb penalty against the Sabres, expect a more disciplined Canadiens team today. Travis Moen returns to the lineup to take his place after what he calls a lower body injury, sustained by blocking a shot against Boston.
One area to watch today will be special teams, as Toronto is terrible on them. Here's a statistical rundown by NHL.com:
The view from the opposing side over at Pension Plan Puppets.