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Storied rivalry between Leafs, Canadiens starts anew

by Arpon Basu /

MAPLE LEAFS (0-0-0) at CANADIENS (0-0-0)


Season series: The age-old rivalry between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs begins another chapter as Canada's two most storied clubs face each other to open the 2013-14 NHL season. It will be the first of five meetings between the teams, but the only one that does not take place on a Saturday night. The Canadiens will host three of the five games this season, with Toronto's Air Canada Centre serving as the venue for the other two.

The Maple Leafs gave the Canadiens some trouble last season, winning three of the five games in the season series, and winning them by a combined margin of 13-2. Toronto won both games played at Montreal's Bell Centre last season.

Big story: The Canadiens and the Maple Leafs are playing each other on opening night. It doesn’t get much bigger than that.

Team scope:

Maple Leafs: The Maple Leafs enter the 2013-14 without one the players who was being looked to as a missing piece to the puzzle, with David Clarkson set to serve the first of his 10-game suspension for leaving the bench to join an altercation in the preseason against the Buffalo Sabres.

Clarkson's absence should give Nikolai Kulemin a chance to shine on Toronto's second line with Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul, but Kulemin's promotion has a trickle-down effect throughout the bottom six. With tough guy Frazer McLaren expected to start the season on long term injured reserve, Troy Bodie should get an opportunity to fill a fourth-line role for coach Randy Carlyle.

Rookie Morgan Rielly, who is still junior eligible, broke camp with the club and will be in Montreal, but his long-term future in Toronto is not yet clear.

"We feel strongly that Morgan is a young kid that's shown a lot of potential and has played well in training camp," Carlyle told reporters. "There's a lot of positives taking place with a young player."

Canadiens: The Canadiens got some bad news on the injury front Monday as defenseman Douglas Murray was lost for four to six weeks with an upper-body injury sustained at practice Sunday. That leaves Montreal with six healthy defensemen, one of whom is rookie Jarred Tinordi, who will be looked upon to fill the role the Canadiens were hoping Murray would play.

Tinordi, 21, is 6-foot-6, 227 pounds and plays a mean style, showing his willingness to play a physical brand of hockey throughout the preseason that should serve him well against one of the most physical teams in the League on Tuesday night.

"He's a big guy, he's physical and he's mean," defenseman P.K. Subban said of Tinordi on Monday. "I enjoy watching him hit guys and fight guys and do all that fun stuff."

Injury report: The Maple Leafs will be without McLaren (hand) and Clarkson (suspension). … The Canadiens are missing defensemen Alexei Emelin (knee), Davis Drewiske (shoulder) and Murray (upper body).

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