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Canadiens host Maple Leafs, seek ninth straight win

by Sean Farrell

MAPLE LEAFS (1-3-2) at CANADIENS (8-0-0)

TV: CBC, TVA Sports

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens have yet to lose this season, so it's no surprise that coach Michel Therrien likely will use the same skaters that he has in every game as Montreal looks for its ninth-straight win when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs at Bell Centre on Saturday.

The Maple Leafs will have lineup changes in hopes of defeating their rivals. Center Byron Froese will make his NHL debut.

Froese was recalled from Toronto of the American Hockey League on Friday. The 24-year-old signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Maple Leafs on July 3 after playing for five minor league teams over the past four seasons.

Selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the fourth round (No. 119) of the 2009 NHL Draft, Froese wondered if his dream of playing in the League would ever come true.

"For sure," said Froese, who had three goals in four games in the AHL. "There's dark times when you're getting sent down and called back up, and nothing seems to be going your way, but in the last year and a half everything seems to be going my way this time, so it's exciting and I just want to relish it."

Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock knew nothing about Froese when training camp began, but he made a good impression while he was there.

"He's competed hard," Babcock said. "The coaches down there tell me he's been their best player, most competitive guy. We're trying to get more competitive down the middle of the rink, and so the ball is in his court. It's kind of a good opportunity; playing in Montreal, it's a fun place to play, they're 8-0, it's your first game in the National Hockey League, I think it's a good deal."

Right wing Leo Komarov did not take part in the morning skate Saturday, but Babcock expects that he will be in the lineup.

Toronto placed center Tyler Bozak (lower body) and defenseman Jake Gardiner (undisclosed injury) on injured reserve Thursday.

"Injuries happen so we're going to have to find a way with who we have in our lineup," Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said. "When guys go down, I think it's a great opportunity for other guys, so we know how big a pieces they are to our team. Obviously it's tough when you lose guys but other guys will step up and we've got who we've got here."

Montreal, which did not have a morning skate, is two wins shy of matching the NHL record for most wins to begin a season of 10 set by the 1993-94 Toronto Maple Leafs and 2006-07 Buffalo Sabres.

The Canadiens have an opportunity to set a League record for the most consecutive regulations wins to start a season. They tied the mark of eight set by the 1975-76 Sabres with a 7-2 win at Buffalo on Friday.

Goalie Carey Price will make his seventh start after he did not play Friday. He has two shutouts in his past three starts and has allowed six goals in six games.

Here are the projected lineups:


James van Riemsdyk - Nazem Kadri - Leo Komarov

Daniel Winnik - Nick Spaling - Joffrey Lupul

Shawn Matthias - Mark Arcobello - Brad Boyes

Michael Grabner - Byron Froese - PA Parenteau

Matt Hunwick - Dion Phaneuf

Scott Harrington - Morgan Rielly

Roman Polak - Martin Marincin

Jonathan Bernier

James Reimer

Injured: Tyler Bozak (lower body), Jake Gardiner (undisclosed), Stephane Robidas (lower body)

Scratched: Peter Holland


Max Pacioretty - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher

Lars Eller - Alex Galchenyuk - Alexander Semin

Tomas Fleischmann - David Desharnais - Dale Weise

Brian Flynn - Torrey Mitchell - Devante Smith-Pelly

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban

Alexei Emelin - Jeff Petry

Nathan Beaulieu - Tom Gilbert

Carey Price

Mike Condon

Injured: None

Scratched: Greg Pateryn, Jarred Tinordi, Paul Byron

Status report: Babcock paired Hunwick with Phaneuf. "I didn't think that having Reilly and Hunwick together, and then Dion with, I don't know who you're going to put him with, Pollak or Harrington or Marincin, was as good, so this gives me two good pairs," he said. ... Therrien has used the same line combinations and defense pairings in every game, so Pateryn, Tinordi and Byron have yet to play.

Who's hot: Markov had a goal and four assists for a career-high five points Friday to tie the team record for most points by a defenseman in a road game. His fourth point was his 500th. … Plekanec had three assists Friday. He has two goals and four assists during a four-game point streak. … Gallagher scored twice in Buffalo, and has three goals and two assists during a three-game point streak. … Komarov had three goals in his previous two games prior to Toronto's 2-1 shootout loss in Buffalo on Wednesday.

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