CANADIENS (0-0-0) @ MAPLE LEAFS (0-0-0)
The 2014-15 NHL season gets underway on Wednesday with a customary matchup between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs, this year hosted at the Air Canada Centre. The tilt marks the first night of a four-game road trip for the Habs to kick off the season, with dates in Washington, Philadelphia and Tampa also on tap in the coming days.
Following a lengthy training camp that gave the Habs’ brass a chance to see how the team’s prospects have been progressing, management opted to let go of a few veterans, namely Francis Bouillon and Peter Budaj. Those moves made room for the team’s young stars to carve their place in the lineup, with Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi and Dustin Tokarski all earning full time roster spots with the big club.
Newly-signed forward Jiri Sekac was also named to the team’s 23-man final roster, and is set to make his NHL debut during the road swing, most likely alongside his preseason linemates, Lars Eller and Rene Bourque.
Fellow Canadiens newbies Manny Malhotra, Tom Gilbert and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau – who spent the majority of his training camp skating on a line with David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty – will all enjoy their first official games in a Habs jersey against the Leafs.
Carey Price will get the start for Montreal between the pipes, going toe-to-toe with Toronto netminder Jonathan Bernier on opening night.
After leaving his job running the NHL’s Department of Player Safety in April, Brendan Shanahan will embark on his first season as president of the Maple Leafs this year. Since taking the reins in Toronto, the majority of changes made by Shanahan have happened at an administrative level. On the ice, the team welcomes defenseman Stephane Robidas and forward David Booth to the fold, but Booth will have to wait to make his official Maple Leafs debut while he recovers from a foot injury.
Defenseman Cody Franson will also not be in the lineup for Toronto, while David Clarkson’s status for Wednesday night is not yet known.
The Habs and Leafs will faceoff on opening night for a sixth-straight season. The last time the Canadiens were on the winning end of that battle was October 1, 2009, a 4-3 overtime victory for Montreal. Last year, Toronto won the first game of the season in Montreal 4-3.