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Sat, 23 Jan 2016 Canadiens @ Maple Leafs 7:00 PM HNIC, TVAS


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TORONTO – The focus will be on the goaltenders when the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Montreal Canadiens at Air Canada Centre on Saturday.

That is often the case when the NHL’s two oldest franchises hook up.

However, with the Canadiens’ Carey Price sidelined with a lower-body injury, the spotlight will be more on Toronto goalie James Reimer, who leads the NHL with a .937 save percentage and ranks third with a 1.98 goals-against average.

Toronto coach Mike Babcock speaks often about players being given an opportunity and how it is up to them to make the most of it. He believes Reimer has made the most of his opportunity this season. Reimer has taken over as the team’s No. 1 goalie from Jonathan Bernier.

“I sure think so,” Babcock said. “I was asked yesterday about Bernie, but you know it’s interesting; Bernier has really competed and worked hard of late, but you can’t take away what Reims has done. You’ve got to give the guy credit. I watched the chances against from last game [1-0 overtime loss Thursday to the Carolina Hurricanes] and when they get chances they don’t look like chances anymore. They don’t look like they are going to go in. He seems relaxed, confident and comfortable. He earned that right.”

Reimer, 27, has improved his play substantially this season, not only allowing fewer goals, but also improving his play with the puck. Reimer said he is very happy with the state of his game.

“I feel pretty good,” he said. “I feel our team – especially the past few games – has played really well. When your teammates are playing well it makes you look good, too.”

Captain Dion Phaneuf said Reimer has been a big part of any success Toronto has enjoyed this season.

“Reims has been real good for us all year,” Phaneuf said. “He has been very consistent making key stops at key times in the game and when it comes to goaltending those are big momentum shifts in games.

Despite having lost five in a row (0-4-1), the Canadiens have had their way with the Maple Leafs recently, going 6-1-3 record in the past 10 games. Montreal is 7-2-1 in the past 10 games played in Toronto.

The Canadiens have been struggling since Price sustained his injury. They are 4-16-1 in the past 21 games. Mike Condon will start in goal.

Captain Max Pacioretty said the Canadiens are aware of how well Reimer has been playing and they need to try to get him off his game.

“We know they have a hot goaltender, but at the end of the day we have to worry about our own game and that is taking away his eyes and getting second and third chances,” Pacioretty said. “We have seen it over the years where the only way to beat Carey is by taking away his eyes because he can’t stop what he can’t see. We have to do that tonight and make sure we get dirty.”

Despite the team’s current losing streak, Pacioretty insisted frustration has not set in.

“Right now it is great,” Pacioretty said. “We have come to terms with what has happened and we’re ready to turn the page. We’re only looking ahead; we are not looking at the past. Our goal is to focus on the present and hopefully individuals can start gaining some confidence as the games go on.”

Babcock said the game is special any time the Maple Leafs and Canadiens face one another.

“It’s two original six teams with a lot of history,” Babcock said. “I think if you look at the standings right now neither team feels they are in their rightful place.”

Here are the projected lineups:

CANADIENS

Max Pacioretty - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher

Alex Galchenyuk - David Desharnais - Dale Weise

Tomas Fleischmann - Lars Eller – Daniel Carr

Brian Flynn - Torrey Mitchell - Devante Smith-Pelly

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban

Alexei Emelin - Jeff Petry

Nathan Beaulieu - Mark Barberio

Mike Condon

Ben Scrivens

Injured: Carey Price (lower body), Tom Gilbert (lower body), Paul Byron (lower body)

Scratched: Greg Pateryn, Jacob De La Rose

MAPLE LEAFS

Shawn Matthias - Tyler Bozak - PA Parenteau

Michael Grabner - Nazem Kadri - Leo Komarov

Joffrey Lupul - Peter Holland - Josh Leivo

Daniel Winnik - Byron Froese - Rich Clune

Matt Hunwick - Morgan Rielly

Jake Gardiner - Dion Phaneuf

Martin Marincin - Roman Polak

James Reimer

Jonathan Bernier

Injured: James van Riemsdyk (foot), Nick Spaling (upper body), Stephane Robidas (lower body)

Scratched: Frank Corrado, Brad Boyes

Status report: Canadiens recalled Carr from St. John’s of the American Hockey League on Thursday…Galchenyuk took some shifts at right wing at practice Friday … Leivo is expected to play in place of Boyes who played his 800th NHL game Thursday…Spaling is getting close to returning to the Maple Leafs lineup, but probably won’t play against Montreal.

Who’s hot: Komarov leads the Maple Leafs with 30 points and has 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in his past 19 games…Bozak, Kadri and Phaneuf each have two assists in the past three games…Subban has points in six straight games and nine of the past 10…Pacioretty has two goals in the past three games.

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I hope that habs93 & family are safe during this storm.

Ditto. Nasty stuff over there.

Seeing as we're no longer cheering for a coach change,,, then let's win this one boys.

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Indeed, we're doing fine. Thanks, everybody. :)

Much less interesting reason for not having the GDT up today... I forgot! :ph34r:

Thanks for the GDT, HRF,,,, (I'll save my thanks to 93,,, for another time that he remembers ;) ).

Refs for tonight are Kevin Pollock (#33) & Brad Watson (#23).

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It's Keon night, for legends row. Another long and drawn out affair.

Speaking of which: I now have the ability to check when games start vs their scheduled start time. So I could theoretically determine in a scientifically sound manner whether or not the Habs' pre-game ceremonies are actually significantly longer than league average.

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Speaking of which: I now have the ability to check when games start vs their scheduled start time. So I could theoretically determine in a scientifically sound manner whether or not the Habs' pre-game ceremonies are actually significantly longer than league average.

So when is the "real" start time? ;)

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