After spending last week battling teammates in training camp intra-squad games, the Canadiens are set to face their first real test as preseason action begins with a match up against the Maple Leafs, Tuesday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
The two longstanding rivals will meet for the first time since the Canadiens defeated the Maple Leafs 4-3 in the final game of the 2014-15 regular season.
The Canadiens look to build off of the success of last season which saw the club finish in second place atop the Eastern Conference standings before being eliminated in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning. In contrast, the revamped Maple Leafs are eager to hit the ice Tuesday night after an off-season overhaul that precipitated major changes to the teams’ front office and roster following a disappointing season.
Note that Tuesday night’s game will feature the new three-on-three overtime format, regardless of the score at the end of regulation. The goal of which is to give coaches and players a chance to test the new overtime structure before it comes the norm during the regular season. The final official score will be unaffected by the new overtime format, unless the game is tied at the end of regulation.
The new format is designed to reduce the number of games that are decided by shootouts with three-on-three hockey opening up more ice and increasing the number of odd-man rushes leading to additional scoring chances.
Canadiens fans got their first glimpse of potential line combinations when training camp opened last week in Brossard. Instant chemistry, illustrated by the newly formed line of Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk and Alexander Semin, has been the talk of the town since the puck dropped in the first intra-squad game in Brossard.
Fans waiting to see the newly formed line in action might have to hold their breath as Alexander Semin is currently day-to-day nursing a foot injury. David Desharnais missed practice Monday with a lower body injury and captain Max Pacioretty, previously sidelined with a knee injury sustained during the off-season, has resumed skating.
Summer recruits Zack Kassian and Mark Barberio will make their Canadiens preseason debut against the Maple Leafs. In addition, prospects battling for a roster spot including Tim Bozon, Daniel Carr, Gabriel Dumont, Michael McCarron, Darren Dietz and Zachary Fucale are all expected to suit up for the Bleu Blanc et Rouge.
Tuesday’s meeting marks the beginning of a busy end of September for the Canadiens as the team is scheduled to play four preseason games in five nights. With the 2015-16 season just over two weeks away, Tuesday night’s game will be a preview of October 7th when the Canadiens travel to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs in the regular season opener. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. EST.
The game will be broadcasted on RDS.