The Montreal Canadiens (12-4-3) finish off their Ontario road trip in Toronto where they’ll take on the Maple Leafs (12-8-0) Wednesday night. The game at the Air Canada Centre starts at 7:30 and can be seen on RDS, and TSN.
This is the third chance the Habs will have to earn a win against the Leafs, with another two games to play afterwards. Toronto has already beaten the Canadiens twice this year at the Bell Centre, the season opener and more recently, a 6-0 victory on February 9, the Habs’ worse loss so far this season.
What to Watch:
Tuesday evening the Canadiens traded Erik Cole to the Dallas Stars in return for ex-Hab Michael Ryder. Like Cole, Ryder had 35 goals last year. He has 6 goals and 14 points this season, including 9 points during his current 6-game point streak. If the Newfoundland native makes it to Toronto in time for Wednesday’s game it will be interesting to see where he fits in the lineup and whether or not he can keep his streak going.
Phil Kessel already has five points against the Canadiens in the two games these teams have played. He had a somewhat slow start to the season, with no goals and just 4 assists in his first 9 games, but he’s picked his play back up to its expected level with 4 goals and 8 assists in the past 11.
What’s at Stake:
The Canadiens are still looking for a first win this season against their longtime rivals, and now that both teams have something to play for, a victory on Wednesday would be that much sweeter. The Canadiens have a 3-point cushion on the Leafs and a game in hand, meaning a win would give them some breathing room in the standings.
Even though they still hold the top spot in the East, the Canadiens have looked vulnerable to teams in their division this year. The Habs have a 10-0-1 record against teams outside their division, but within the Northeast they are just 2-4-2.
After missing the last two games with what had been described as the flu, it seems Rene Bourque’s injury could actually be more serious. Renaud Lavoie of RDS has reported that Bourque is actually out with a concussion, there’s no immediate timeline for his return. Petteri Nokelainen (back) is also out indefinitely.
The Leafs are missing starting goalie James Reimer (knee) as well as forwards Matt Frattin (knee) and Joffrey Lupul who is out long term with a broken forearm. Colton Orr (lower body) is expected to play on Wednesday after missing the last three games, but Mike Brown (lower body) was forced out of Toronto’s last game and could be out of the lineup against the Habs as well.
Michael Ryder will rejoin the team that drafted him, and the one he played his first four NHL seasons with. Therrien never coached Ryder with the Canadiens in his first go-around, but he did spend 19 games overseeing him as part of the AHL’s Quebec Citadelles.
The last time he was with the Habs, Ryder played with current members Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Markov, Josh Gorges, Francis Bouillon and Carey Price. He led the team in goals in 2005-06 and 2006-07 with 30 markers each season.
Be sure to tune into the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show an hour before the puck drop and the Post Game Show 5 minutes after the final siren.