The Montreal Canadiens were 24-21-11 with 59 points last season. The Canadians were defeated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup finals. During the offseason, Montreal added notable players such as Mike Hoffman, Christian Dvorak, Matthew Perreault and Chris Wideman. Montreal said goodbye to players such as Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Phillip Danault, Tomas Tatar, Eric Staal and Corey Perry amongst others. Montreal has several players on its injury list including Paul Byron, Mike Hoffman, Sami Niku, Carey Price and Shea Weber.
The Toronto Maple Leafs finished their 2020-21 regular season 35-14-7 with 77 points. Toronto was first in the North Division but lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Montreal Canadiens. During the offseason, Toronto added Ondrej Kase, David Kampf, Michael Bunting and Petr Mrazek. The Maple Leafs parted ways with Zach Hyman, Joe Thornton, Frederik Andersen and Alex Galchenyuk. The Maple Leafs will play without Ilya Mikheyev and Alex Steeves, while Auston Matthews is questionable.
Young Talent Rules in MontrealMontreal made a deep run into the postseason last year before falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup finals and this season is expected once again to reach the postseason behind the play of young talent. The addition of Christian Dvorak, Mike Hoffman and Matheiu Perreault give Montreal plenty of experience on both ends of the ice, but young talent led by Nick Kazuki and Cole Caufield will be the Canadiens strength in the attacking zone.
However, Montreal could be suspect on the blue line and in net as the Canadians will not have top defenseman Shea Weber for the entire season due to thumb, knee and ankle injuries. Weber is not only huge for Montreal’s back end, but his experience as well as leadership will also be missed. In addition, the Canadians must start the regular season without veteran netminder Carey Price, who is taking a leave of absence to join the NHLPA’s player assistance program. Jake Allen will be the No. 1 goalie for the Canadiens in Price’s absence.
Scoring Is Toronto's ForteThe Toronto Maple Leafs are known for their goal scoring and Toronto’s Auston Matthews has scored more goals with 88 than any other player in the NHL over the last two seasons. Mitch Marner is an excellent complement to Mattews and last season led the Maple Leafs in points with 67, scoring 20 goals and handing out to 47 assists. Toronto will also rely on the experience and talent of John Tavares, who last season was third in scoring with 50 points, while William Nylander will center Toronto’s fourth line. Last season, Nylander scored 17 goals and had 25 assists.
The exceptional play in goal late last season of Jack Campbell allowed Toronto to let Frederik Andersen leave via free agency. Campbell was 17-3-2 to end the regular season and also played very well in Toronto's loss to Montreal in the first round of the playoffs. The Maple Leafs added veteran netminder Petr Mrazek to share netminding duties with Campbell. Both goalies will see plenty of action but the pressure will be on Campbell to duplicate his impressive run over the final 22 games of the regular season last year.
- Toronto is 4-1 in the last five against a team from the Atlantic division
- The Maple Leafs are 7-1 in the last eight played on Wednesday
- Montreal is 1-4 in the last five
- The Canadiens are 1-4 in the last five as the underdog