Time: Wednesday October 3rd 2018 at 7pm
The Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to get the John Tavares era off to a good start and that journey begins in game #1 in Toronto against the rebuilding Montreal Canadiens. Toronto and Montreal games have been historically hard fought, hard hitting, grind it out rivalries. You shouldn’t expect anything less from either of these teams.
Toronto has moved on from the rebuild and has become one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, while Montreal has fallen from favour and begins the hard task of a full rebuild. This game will show speed and skill.
Toronto will boast the loaded powerplay of Marner, Tavares , Kadri, Matthews and Rielly, while the Canadiens will showcase newly draft rookie Jesper Kotkaniemi along with a totally revamped roster.
Let’s begin by talking briefly about the Maple Leafs 2017/2018 season, roster for 2019, game day line up and injuries and finally some key game points.
2017/2018 Season Review –
The Maple Leafs had a brilliant regular season finishing 3rd in the Eastern Conference with a record of 49-26-7 and 107 points. Mitch Marner took his game to another level in the 2nd half of the season, while Anderson set a record for most wins by a Maple Leaf goalie.
The playoffs were a different story, the Leafs were heavy favorites against the Bruins. But the physicality of the Bruins along with shady defensive and shotty goaltending at times lead to the Leafs being eliminated in the first round.
The Leafs needed to find a way to fix or add to this team. So this offseason they targeted John Tavares and they got their man. Now with a bunch of youth infused into the lineup and Matthews, Marner, Nylander, Kadri , Marleau and Taveras on the top 6, this team is to be feared.
2019 Roster –
As it stands now here is the season opening roster for the Toronto Maple Leafs
– William Nylander (If he signs)
Opening Night Line Up & Injuries –
This is the lineup for opening night that I believed will be used
Rielly – Hainsey
Gardiner – Zaitsev
Dermott – Ozhiganov
Odd men out – Marincin and Holl
Ennis –Matthews – Marleau
Marner – Tavares– Hyman
Leivo – Kadri – Brown
Johnsson – Lindholm – Kapanen
4 Keys to Winning in Montreal:
- Attack the Montreal defence.
- Ouellet, Mete, Juulsen are all young guys who haven’t played a lot and Weber and Schlemko being injured means they are going to be thrust into more minutes. If the Leafs 4 lines can fore-check hard and not let the defence have any time to make decision the inexperience of this blue line may cough up some pucks.
- Bodies in front of Carey Price.
- Price is an elite goaltender no matter his struggles last season, the Leafs need to make sure that there is always someone in front of the net making his life difficult. Because if Price catches fire, this could be a long long long night for the Leafs offensive players.
- Speed Speed Speed
- ULeafs have tons of it through their 4 lines. They must keep the tempo high and maintain that all game. Forcing the young Canadiens team to keep up and play at that pace.
- Leafs defencemen need to limit the time spent in their own zone.
- Crisp passes, smart plays off the boards. Anything that limits the time spent in their own zone. Puck Possession is a big part of getting the win.