ADDED 11:39AM Feb 24, 2011 by phjoshua
Tonight marks the 5th game of the season between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. The teams have split the previous 4 match-ups and would both love to get a win at the Bell Centre this time around.
The Maple Leafs look to stay hot and continue their unlikely climb through the Eastern Conference standings while the Habs are hoping to put back-to-back wins together and get out of their recent slump. Toronto is currently sitting in 11th place in the east only 6 points out of a playoff spot. It’s a position that many didn’t think the team would be in this late in the season. Kudos has to be given to the players who are, in many cases, playing above their believed potential and helping the Leafs pick up wins. The Canadiens meanwhile are in the 6th position in the conference, 6 points clear of 8th place. They are 4 points behind the Division leading Boston Bruins (who have 1 game in hand) and 3 points behind Washington for 5th.
The goaltending match-up tonight looks to be James Reimer (Toronto) vs. Alex Auld (Montreal). It may not be a marquee pairing, but both goalies have been solid in their outings this season. Reimer has turned heads since his call-up from the AHL and is pushing the organization to take a serious look at having him on the opening day roster for the 2011-2012 season.
Auld gets the start for no reason other than to give Carey Price a rest. Price has already played in 54 games this season for the Canadiens, winning a career high 28 decisions. Auld has only played in 9 games this season which may make him rusty or well rested, depending on how you want to look at the situation.
Neither team has been scoring a ton of goals this season so many expect this game to be a low scoring affair (my pick is 2-1 Mtl) that could end up in overtime or a shootout. If we are to see an explosion of goals it will likely be due to defensive breakdowns and giveaways which have been a problem for both teams over the course of this season.
No matter how the game finishes I can promise that the atmosphere will be intense in Montreal. This is one of the all-time greatest rivalries in professional sports and the fans from both cities love to hate each other and the teams. Be prepared to hear a lot of singing and chanting from the 21,000+ in the Bell Centre from the drop of the puck til the final whistle.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30pm – be ready – it should be a dandy!