The Greatest Rivalry In The History Of Hockey (or something) continues tonight as the Toronto Maple Leafs visit La Belle Province for their fourth game of the season against the Montreal Canadiens. The Leafs can tie the Canadiens in points with a win, but the Habs would still hold the edge because of regulation and overtime wins.
As I’m writing this, the Tampa Bay Lightning just beat the Dallas Stars by a score of 4-2 (thank you, NHL Centre Ice free preview). This means the Lightning are tied with the Habs for second in the Atlantic Division, and a Leaf win tonight will make it a three-way tie. Meanwhile, the Washington Capitals, New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets all won today. All four teams are hot on the Leafs’ heels for a wild-card spot.
So yeah, the Leafs still have 20 games to play in the season, but things are going to start getting real tight in the Eastern Conference playoff race. A big win tonight against one of the teams ahead of them will go a long way in hopefully establishing some much-needed confidence.
Canadiens goaltender Carey Price injured himself at some point during Canada’s dominant gold medal-winning performance in Sochi, and won’t be in net tonight. Peter Budaj, who has a solid .920 save percentage this season, will get the start. Laval, Quebec native Jonathan Bernier will get another start for the Leafs. He’ll hope to rebound from a poor game against the New York Islanders on Thursday night.
Peter Holland was called up from the Toronto Marlies and it looks like he’ll slot in as the third-line centre. Colton Orr, Frazer McLaren and Paul Ranger all appear to be out tonight. For the whole lineup picture, along with viewing information and other noteworthy tidbits, read the preview.
My prediction for the game: The Leafs will win. 4-1. Nikolai Kulemin will score a goal. What say you?
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GOOOOO LEAFS GOOOOOOOO!!!