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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 7:27 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Canadiens and Leafs kick off another season

TORONTO - The sounds of bagpipes filling the Air Canada Centre on Thursday night was a sure sign another National Hockey League season was getting under way.

The 48th Highlanders kicked off the pregame ceremonies prior to the Toronto Maple Leafs hosting the rival Montreal Canadiens -- just as they have at every Leafs opener since 1931.

With the Canadiens and Leafs meeting for the 709th time since 1917, the sense of tradition was that much more poignant. But the focus was shifted toward the present as the members of this 95th edition of the Maple Leafs franchise were introduced to the sellout crowd.

Unfortunately for that crowd, it had to salute one of the team's biggest offseason acquisitions wearing a suit instead of a uniform as Tim Connolly was unable to play due to an upper-body injury suffered in training camp.

After the players were introduced, culminating in a big ovation for team captain Dion Phaneuf, the Canadiens were invited out onto the ice and were roundly booed by the fans -- the visitors took a minute or two to actually emerge, further drawing the ire of the fans.

However, the crowd -- featuring a healthy sprinkling of Canadiens jerseys -- united to sing the national anthem with no accompaniment as a giant Canadian flag was unfurled and passed from fan to fan behind the player benches.

Hockey Night in Canada indeed.

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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 2:21 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Line combos, defense pairings for Habs, Leafs

The Maple Leafs and Canadiens both skated today at Air Canada Centre ahead of tonight's game (7 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS). Here's how their lineups could look tonight based on the lines and defense pairings at today's practice:

MAPLE LEAFS

Lupul – Bozak – Kessel
Kulemin – Grabovski – Frattin
Steckel – Dupuis – Armstrong
Rosehill – Lombardi – Brown
 
Liles – Schenn
Gunnarson – Phaneuf
Gardiner – Komisarek

Injured: Connolly
Scratches: Franson, Orr
 
Jason Reimer will start in goal with Jonas Gustavsson backing him up.
 
CANADIENS

Cammalleri – Plekanec – Kostitsyn
Pacioretty – Gomez – Gionta
Darche – Desharnais – Cole
Moen – Engqvist – Weber

 
Gill – Subban
Campoli – Gorges
Spacek – Diaz

Injured: Betts
Scratch: Emelin
 
Carey Price will start in goal with Peter Budaj backing him up.
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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 3:09 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Canadiens Camp: Gorges, Pacioretty back to work

BROSSARD, Que. -- An intra-squad scrimmage on the opening day of training camp is rarely anything to get excited about for most NHL veterans.

But for Josh Gorges and Max Pacioretty, Saturday's scrimmage was a pretty momentous occasion.

It represented the first semblance of competitive hockey for the two coming back from major injuries, and at least for Gorges, it made him a bit uneasy.

"To be honest, there were some nerves last night and this morning about how it was going to be when the checking came in and the speed picked up a little bit," Gorges said. "It was fun to be out there with the guys playing some hockey."

Gorges hasn't played in an NHL game since December, when he damaged the meniscus in his right knee, the same knee that had a torn ACL in it since he has playing junior hockey with the Kelowna Rockets.
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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 12:30 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Canadiens Camp: Yemelin impresses early

BROSSARD, Que. -- Michael Cammalleri gave the throngs of Montreal Canadiens fans at the first day of training camp something to cheer about Saturday, scoring the tying goal with less than a minute to play and the winner in the shootout in the first scrimmage of the season.

Ben Winnett, a University of Michigan product in camp on a tryout, scored two goals in the game, while Dany Masse, Alexander Avtsin and Ian Schultz also scored in the game.

But the biggest impression was left by Russian defenseman Alexei Yemelin, who laid a number of thunderous hits, most notably a hip check that sent Max Pacioretty spinning into the air. Pacioretty gave Yemelin a dirty look as he got up.

In addition to that, Yemelin made some smart plays with the puck and looked more like a veteran than a player making his North American debut after seven seasons of pro hockey in Russia.
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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 11:39 AM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Canadiens Camp: Gomez misses scrimmage

BROSSARD, Que. -- Montreal Canadiens center Scott Gomez did not take part in the first scrimmage of training camp Saturday.

Gomez was on the ice when his group began its first practice session of the day, but he was not out there towards the end.

It is unclear why he left. Gomez did not take the ice for the scrimmage. The Canadiens should provide an update later in the day.

The scrimmage gave the crowd of more than 1,000 people their first chance to watch defenseman Alexei Yemelin in action, seven years after the Canadiens made him the 84th pick in the 2004 Entry Draft. Also, hulking 2010 first round pick Jarred Tinordi was throwing his 6-foot-6, 215-pound body around with a few bone-crunching hits in the early going.
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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 10:38 AM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Canadiens Camp: Markov missing, Cole on top line?

BROSSARD, Que. -- The Montreal Canadiens are holding their first day on ice at training camp 2012 on Saturday with 60 of the 64 players here strapping on the skates.

The biggest omissions is defenseman Andrei Markov, who is still recovering from December knee surgery and said Friday he is not sure when he will be able to return. In addition, 2009 first-round pick Louis Leblanc is not skating as he, too, recovers from May shoulder surgery, and fellow prospects Joonas Nattinen (second round, 2009) and Olivier Fortier (second round, 2007) are also injured.

The Canadiens have split the remaining 60 players into three groups, and the way they've been split is of some interest because each of them feature three forwards that could make up the team's top three lines when the regular season begins.
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— Florida goalie Roberto Luongo after the Panthers defeated the Capitals in the longest shootout in NHL history on Tuesday
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