Well slap my ass and call me Susan, the day is finally here!!! GAME ONE BABY!!!
Two storied franchises with a rivalry that stretches as long as any in professional sports will battle it out tonight and if I told you I wasn’t excited, scared and anxious I’d be lying. I can barely contain myself and my hope is that the players feel the same.
In order to take this series over the Habs, the Leafs will need to play with passion and a chip on their shoulder. You know both teams will want to come out of the gate flying and set the tone early with a few hits and shots, so look to see the Leafs do that as well as push to find the back of the net first.
Storylines aren’t hard to come by this season. With better blue line depth than we’ve seen in years, it’s Travis Dermott that will sit for Game #1, as Zach Bogosian has been cleared to play and will suit up in his spot. He’ll share the ice with Rasmus Sandin, who makes his NHL playoff debut.
Jack Campbell, after having a stellar year with Frederik Andersen out due to injury, will get the start over the Leafs long time #1 goaltender and, like Sandin, will also suit up for his first NHL playoff game. If he can settle down quickly and bring the same steadyness to the blue paint as he did in the season, well, the sky is the limit for the Leafs.
Riley Nash makes his Toronto Maple Leafs debut tonight. The theory is that the veteran centre will find a way to gel with his team quickly. Look for him to draw in on the penalty killing unit and to be deployed in defensive matchups. He’s a smart player and could really be a huge addition to this team.
Nick Foligno and Wayne Simmonds are about to wreak havoc on the Habs defenders. Both love a physical, in your face style of hockey and both are passionate about the jersey they wear and the city they play for. I’m beyond excited to see what they can bring to the table, especially if the refs decide to put the whistles away and let the teams duke it out.
Zach Hyman, the swiss army knife of the Leafs organization, will also draw back into the lineup tonight. He hasn’t played in a month, but we all know that he’ll be ready to go. If they want to go deep into the playoffs they’re going to need a big playoffs from Hyman and I’m confident he can deliver.
Here’s your lineup for tonight:
As well as a look at the special teams lines:
In other Leafs news, a big (and late) congratulations to Auston Matthews on being the first ever Toronto Maple Leaf to win the Maurice (Rocket) Richard trophy, awarded to the player that leads the league in goals each year:
I can’t wait for puck drop!!
Enjoy the game!!
GO LEAFS GO!!