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Canadiens seek Atlantic title against Maple Leafs

by Mike Brophy /

CANADIENS (49-22-10) at MAPLE LEAFS (30-44-7)


TORONTO -- The Montreal Canadiens will be looking to clinch first place in the Atlantic Division and home ice advantage in the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs when the play against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; CBC, TVA).

Montreal can secure the Atlantic Division with a win or overtime loss against Toronto. If the Canadiens lose in regulation, the Tampa Bay Lightning could clinch the division, and the second seed in the Eastern Conference, with a win against the Boston Bruins.

“As a team you always want to get to the highest point in the standings as you possibly can and we have an opportunity to get even higher than we are right now,” said Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban. “I think we have played a lot of good hockey this year and of late we have done a good job paying attention to the details that are going to make us a better hockey team come the post-season.”

Regardless of Saturday’s result, the Maple Leafs will finish 27th overall and will have a 9.5 percent chance of winning the draft lottery to get the first overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. Toronto has missed the playoffs in nine of the past 10 seasons.

Subban said the Canadiens will not be taking the Maple Leafs lightly despite the discrepancy between the two teams in the standings.

“Every time we have played the Leafs this year it has been a tight game with a lot of energy and a lot of emotion,” Subban said. “If anybody thinks it is going to be an easy game for us they are sadly mistaken. They have guys that can score goals that are world-class players and if we aren’t prepared to play our best game we could be in trouble.”

The Maple Leafs called up forward Colton Orr from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League for what could be his last game in the NHL. He has played 14 games with the Marlies this season and has four penalty minutes.

Orr, 33, is on the final year of his contract with the Maple Leafs and said he has not decided yet if he’ll continue his playing career beyond this season. In 476 NHL games Orr has 12 goals and 24 points with 1,186 penalty minutes.

Orr said he was thrilled the organization chose to honor him by allowing him to play in the season finale.

“There are a lot of emotions going on now,” Orr said. “It’s exciting and fun. I am going to try to enjoy every moment of it and just go out and have some fun. It means a lot to me that the organization is putting me in this game. It shows respect for what I have done over the years. I really appreciate it.”

Toronto forward Joffrey Lupul said the Maple Leafs players are pleased that Orr is back with the group.

“He’s the ultimate team guy who did whatever was asked of him in his time here," said Lupul. "It’s a great way for him to finish this season.”

Coach Peter Horachek said he hopes the team bounces back from a 5-0 loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday. He said the team treated the final seven games of the season as a playoff series, and its record is 3-3.

“This is Game 7 for us and I’d like to see the guys put it on the line and hope that it means something more than simply playing a game,” Horachek said.

Here are the projected lineups:


Alex Galchenyuk - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher

Devante Smith-Pelly - David Desharnais - Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau

Jacob De La Rose - Lars Eller - Dale Weise

Brandon Prust - Torrey Mitchell - Brian Flynn

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban

Alexei Emelin - Jeff Petry

Nathan BeaulieuGreg Pateryn

Carey Price

Dustin Tokarski

Scratched: Manny Malhotra, Sergei Gonchar, Greg Pateryn, Mike Weaver.

Injured: Max Pacioretty (upper body) Tom Gilbert (upper body).


James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel.

Richard Panik - Nazem Kadri - Joakim Lindstrom

David Booth - Peter Holland - Joffrey Lupul

Brandon Kozun - Zach SillColton Orr

Eric Brewer - Dion Phaneuf

Jake Gardiner - Morgan Rielly

Andrew MacWilliam - Tim Erixon

Jonathan Bernier

James Reimer

Scratched: Casey Bailey, Leo Komarov

Injured: Nathan Horton (back), Stephane Robidas (shoulder), Roman Polak (sports hernia), Trevor Smith (upper body)

Status report: Komarov practiced Friday, but did not take the morning skate and is not expected to play. … Gilbert is expected to miss his second straight game for the Canadiens.

Who’s hot: Van Riemsdyk has scored in three of Toronto’s past four games and has three goals and six points in the past six games. … Rielly has points in four of his past seven games. … Brewer has three points in the past four games. … Plekanec has scored in Montreal’s past three games. He has five points in that span.

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