Two bitter rivals will wrap up their regular seasons on Saturday night
as the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Montreal Canadiens.
For a second year in a row, the Montreal Canadiens barely squeaked
in while the Toronto Maple Leafs will be watching from home.
These two teams squared off in their final game of the
2009-10 regular season as well with the Leafs attempting to play spoiler with a
4-3 overtime win. A similar result could be expect as the Habs might be giving
some of their players a rest prior to the playoffs.
Canadiens Can Win Because…:
Carey Price will be in net on Saturday, which indicates
that the Habs will take this game seriously.
They can’t fall lower than seventh in the Eastern
Conference standings and for the most part, they could probably rest their
players if they wanted to – including No. 1 goaltender Carey Price.
Instead, they are going to put him between the pipes,
which shows that they do have interest in finishing their season on a winning
note and generating a little bit of steam before the playoffs start.
The Habs are coming off an effort where head coach
Jacques Martin admitted that the team somewhat took their pedal off the gas in
a 3-2 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators. Otherwise, the Habs have been
playing playoff hockey for the last few weeks and nothing should change in this
The Toronto Maple
Leafs Can Win Because…:
The Habs have just three wins in their last eight, which
is a very pedestrian record considering they are trying to build a bit of
momentum heading into the playoffs.
But maybe the Habs really don’t care about that.
They lost eight of their final 11 games to end the
2009-10 and they did just fine in the playoffs with a surprising journey all
the way through to the Eastern Conference finals. With the same coaching staff
intact, they might opt for a similar, conservative strategy to end the 2010-11
campaign as well.
In either case, the Leafs should be game to play. They
have won six of their last nine and while their playoff run fell short, they
are trying to use this positive finish to springboard for a good start next
Home-ice advantage has been a key in this series this
season as the Leafs have both home matchups (and three straight overall)
against the Habs this season while Montreal is 2-1 at home the three times they
were the host.
Outlook & NHL
Even with Price in net for this game, the Leafs should
have the upper hand, despite what the NHL odds boards might suggest. They aren’t really intimidated by him as Price has a
career record of just 7-6-0 against the Maple Leafs with a GAA of 2.56. On the
road this season, Price is just 15-17-1 with a 2.72 GAA compared to his
sparkling 2.02 GAA at home.
The Leafs would love to finish off the season with a big
home win in front of their fans and show them that they are truly headed in the
right direction. That should spur them on to edge out the Habs on Saturday.
Pick: Maple Leafs