The preseason is finally over and the start of a new Leafs season is just around the corner. Freed from the constraints of Canada’s North Division, the Leafs will face all 31 other NHL teams this season, but this season’s theme is redemption. It’s about finally rising above the mediocre results of previous seasons and really achieving something. Hence, it is only fitting that the Leafs should open the season against bitter rivals, whom they eliminated back in May, giving them their most embarrassing sets of losses in franchise history in the process. I’m talking about the Montreal Canadiens, of course.
And similar to their last meeting with the Habs, the Leafs will miss one of their two best centers as Auston Matthews continues to work his way back after undergoing wrist surgery. And they may have to play without a top-3 scorer in the league as Mitch Marner is a game choice after an incident in yesterday’s practice session.
Sheldon Keefe said Mitch Marner will be the deciding factor on game time but had a positive morning with optional skate
– Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) October 13, 2021
Though the Leafs are playing without the reigning Rocket Richard Trophy winner, the Leafs are ennobling a deeper, more complete team tonight and should be able to take a win using the newfound depth of forward and continue to deploy the enhanced defense system that pays off did the team in last year’s regular season.
One final story to keep an eye out for tonight, despite being his third season with the team, this will be Jason Spezza’s first night in the opening lineup with fans in attendance.
Jason Spezza about his emotions in advance #Leaves Start of the season tomorrow:
“Do you remember how you were nine before Christmas? It’s the same feeling. “
– Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) October 12, 2021
Merry Christmas Jason, this night is long overdue for you.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Assuming Marner gets the green light to play, the Leafs will likely line up that way. Timothy Liljegren can join the third pair, but for now we have to assume that Sandin-Dermott will be on the ice.
Notably, after being sued for waivers, Adam Brooks won’t be making his debut as Haber against a former team, so take that guaranteed goal against your bingo cards for tonight.
Jack Campbell will start Game 1 for the Leafs. In the absence of Carey Price (with best wishes to him), Jake Allen is expected to receive the nod for the Canadiens.
When Campbell received the nod, Keefe said, “It wasn’t even a question of who would start this game … it’s a great achievement for him.”
The game begins at 7:00 p.m. ET and will be broadcast nationwide on Sportsnet.