Skip to main content

Canadiens meet Leafs in possible first-round preview

by Arpon Basu

CANADIENS (28-14-5) at MAPLE LEAFS (26-16-5)


Last 10: Montreal 4-6-0; Toronto 6-3-1

Season series: This is the fifth meeting of the season. The Toronto Maple Leafs have won three of four thus far and have outscored the Montreal Canadiens, 15-7.

Big story: A potential first-round preview, the Canadiens will be attempting to make sure they meet a different team when the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin. A win against the Maple Leafs combined with a Boston Bruins regulation loss in Washington would give the Northeast Division crown to the Canadiens and would ensure they avoid a team that has thoroughly dominated them this season. The Maple Leafs will be looking to hold off the Ottawa Senators to maintain their spot in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

Team Scope:

Canadiens: The Canadiens called up defenseman Jarred Tinordi for their big 4-2 win in Winnipeg on Thursday that secured home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Tinordi received 15:40 of ice time, including 1:40 on the Canadiens' struggling penalty kill, had an assist and dished out a game-high seven hits.

It may have been a playoff audition for the big, physical defenseman as he brings a dimension that has been sorely lacking on the Canadiens back end since Alexei Emelin was lost for the season with a knee injury.

"I'm not even really thinking about the playoffs right now and just taking things one game at a time," Tinordi told reporters after practice Friday. "My goal on Thursday night was to bring a physical presence to the lineup, play solidly and show the kind of game I can have. In that sense, I think I turned in a good game. All I'm looking to do now is to keep improving with every game I play."

Maple Leafs: A loss in Tampa Bay on Wednesday coupled with Montreal's win in Winnipeg on Thursday made this game far less significant than it could have been for the Maple Leafs. Had Toronto won that game against the Lightning, this game could have determined home ice advantage in the first round. But the Leafs should still be plenty motivated to win, as it would assure them of finishing in fifth and make a first playoff meeting with the Canadiens since 1979 far more likely. Considering how easily the Maple Leafs have handled Montreal all season, that should be a matchup they favor.

Toronto's 4-0 win in Florida on Thursday saw Nazem Kadri centering the top line with Phil Kessel in place of the injured Tyler Bozak, who may miss this game against Montreal. Kadri assisted on both of Kessel's goals against the Panthers.

Who's hot: For the Canadiens, rookie forward Alex Galchenyuk has six goals and five assists in 12 games and Max Pacioretty has four goals and five assists in eight games. … For the Maple Leafs, Kessel has three goals and five assists in his last four games and Joffrey Lupul has a point in each of his last four games.

Injury report: The Canadiens are missing defenseman Alexei Emelin (knee). … The Maple Leafs may be without Bozak, who was scratched for "maintenance" against Florida.

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.