The 2013-2014 NHL season launches at the Bell Centre on Tuesday when the Canadiens (0-0-0) resume their rivalry against the Maple Leafs (0-0-0). The puck is set to drop at 7:00 and the game can be seen on CBC and RDS.
The Habs and Leafs face off five times this season with three meetings in Montreal. Last year the Habs only managed one win in four games against Toronto and were outscored 13-2 in the other three losses.
What’s at Stake:
The Habs will look to start their season off right against their rivals in the newly formed Atlantic Division. While a win isn’t vital (the Habs did win their division last year despite an opening night loss to the Leafs after all) losing to the Leafs is never fun, especially in front of an amped up, opening night Bell Centre crowd.
What to Watch:
There will be plenty of pressure on the Habs’ youngsters this season. Lars Eller will anchor a line with freshmen Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher, the trio comes into the game with an average age just over 22 years. Jarred Tinordi will also be in the line-up Tuesday. The 21-year old is expected to be paired with the team’s oldest player, Francis Bouillon. Bouillon started his NHL career with the Habs in 1999 when Tinordi was just 7.
Fresh faces Daniel Briere and George Parros will also likely be in action on Tuesday. Although some question marks remain about his ability to still make an impact, Gatineau-native Briere should get a warm reception from the Bell Centre crowd. He’ll play on a line with David Desharnais and Max
The Leafs made the playoffs last season for the first time since 2004 and they’ll be looking to improve on that success this season. Toronto also has their fair share of newcomers on this year’s roster including Stanley Cup Champion Dave Bolland, top free agent David Clarkson and goalie Jonathan Bernier. Clarkson won’t be dressed on Tuesday however, he’ll miss the first 10 games of the season serving a suspension for leaving the bench to join a preseason brawl. Leafs coach, Randy Carlyle, still hasn’t announced whether Laval-native Bernier will get the start against the Habs, or whether it will be James Reimer.
The season hasn’t even started yet and already the Habs are running low on defensemen. Free agent acquisition Douglas Murray is out 4-6 weeks with an upper body injury, Alexei Emelin is still recovering last May’s from knee surgery and Davis Drewiske is sidelined with a shoulder injury.
The Leafs will be missing Clarkson (suspension) and Frazer McLaren (hand).
This is the fifth consecutive season that the Habs and Leafs meet in their season openers. The Leafs have earn a point in each of the past four games while the Habs have only won once, a 4-3 overtime victory all the way back on October 1, 2009.
The Question Mark:
We want to hear from you: Who is the Hab you’re most excited to watch this season? Have your say by leaving a comment below or use the #MTLHockey hashtag to let us know on Twitter.
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. Join the live conversation by using the #MTLHockey hashtag on Twitter.