Nine months after closing out the 2011-12 regular season against each other, the Canadiens and Maple Leafs will go toe-to-toe once again on Bell Centre ice for the season opener on Saturday night.
For the fourth-straight year, the bitter rivals will face each other to kick off the season, but after three years of starting the season in Toronto, the Habs are looking forward to enjoying home ice advantage this time around.
The Canadiens won three of their six meetings with Toronto in 2011-12, losing one of those games in a shootout. Tomas Plekanec, who should be in uniform on Saturday despite missing part of training camp with an injury, was the team’s leading scorer against the Leafs last year, racking up five points in six games. Erik Cole, Lars Eller and Max Pacioretty followed closely behind with four points each. Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf and former Hab Mikhail Grabovski led the Buds in series scoring, picking up three goals and three assists apiece against the Habs last season.
Canadiens story lines:
• Saturday’s game with mark the first in a Canadiens jersey for Brandon Prust and Colby Armstrong. Fellow free agent signing Francis Bouillon will be back in his familiar uniform for the first time since leaving Montreal in April 2009.
• Michel Therrien will be behind the bench for his 500th career NHL game on Saturday night.
Maple Leafs story lines:
• After being acquired from the Flyers in June, James Van Riemsdyk will make his Maple Leafs debut at the Bell Centre on Saturday night.
• The Leafs’ second-leading scorer on defense last season, Jake Gardiner won’t play on Saturday as he’s still suffering from concussion symptoms.
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