Toronto Maple Leafs @ Montreal Canadiens
07:00 PM at Centre Bell
Watch on: RDS, TSN2, TSN4
The Leafs are in Montreal for the first of three games in a row between the two rivals. Tonight's and Saturday night's games will be in Montreal, with the two teams coming back to Toronto on Monday.
Some updates from camp. Klingberg is considered day-to-day, while Nylander might be coming down with the flu. It's possible neither will play this weekend. I personally doubt they will have Nylander travel for the Saturday game. Open chance to see them both on Monday.
Montréal had a practice today of their non-playing group, and an optional skate for tonight's lineup who will be drawn from this practice group from yesterday (minus those who practiced in the first group today):
??? - Jake Evans - Brendan Gallagher
Tanner Pearson - Mitchell Stephens - Josh Anderson
Jesse Ylönen - ??? - Joel Armia
??? - Owen Beck - Joshua Roy
Jordan Harris - Justin Barron
??? - Gustav Lindström
Arber Xherkaj - Nicolas Beaudin
Consider this all subject to change.
The Leafs roster for this first game is very B-team heavy. Beyond Tyler Bertuzzi, David Kampf, Matthew Knies, Mark Giordano, Timothy Liljegren, and Samsonov in net, everyone is either not going to be on the NHL roster or fighting to be on the NHL roster. Only Bertuzzi, Samsonov, and Kämpf make more than $2 million.
From morning skate via Joshua Kloke:
Tyler Bertuzzi - Pontus Holmberg - Noah Gregor
Matthew Knies - Fraser Minten - Sam Lafferty
Nick Robertson - David Kämpf - Ryan Reaves
Nick Abruzzese - Max Ellis - Logan Shaw
Mark Giordano - Timothy Liljegren
William Lagesson - Conor Timmins
Spencer Sova - Mikko Kokkonen
The lines are interesting from the Leafs. Bertuzzi is probably the best player in the game on the Leafs side and he's going to skate with two of the more offensively skilled depth guys in Gregor and Holmberg. If the Leafs wanted a good, reliable offensive fourth line, that's the place to start it.
Knies and Lafferty continue to be paired together, this time with Fraser Minten between them. I don't know what I should expect from this line but I'm excited for it. I interpret Keefe's usage of Lafferty as somewhat of a test to see if he can up in the middle six with good players and do more than just be speedy guy (or just his speed effectively in more ways than rushes).
Same to a lesser extent for Robertson. I feel like I haven't seen him score in forever (probably feels like longer for him). I'm not sure if this is a low point in his career or he's peaked and he's not able to keep up. I noticed in his last game a big reason why he couldn't finish was he was getting to the shooting position too late or taking too long to get his shot off. He's always just getting there in time, not anticipating the play or using his feet effectively. That sort of thing gets really obvious when you play next to guys like Tavares, or as it's becoming clear in some ways, Minten or Cowan who are both positionally very sound for their ages.
I don't know what it says for Robertson to be paired with Kämpf and Reaves. It's either: slow down, go off on your own. Or neither. We'll just have to wait and see.
On defense, Timmins had his one hit wonder. The whole point as to why he can't get in the lineup is consistency. I don't know if his overall play is ready for that. Lagesson, his presumed partner, has been very consistent while not being flashy at all. Ditto Liljegren.
Kokkonen is with Spencer Sova, the 19-year-old captain of the Erie Otters who is on a tryout with the team and might get a contract considering he's this far into camp with them?
Go Leafs Go!