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MAPLE LEAFS (0-0-0) @ CANADIENS (0-0-0)
The moment that hockey fans have longed for has finally arrived, as the Canadiens open the 2013-14 regular season campaign on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre against the Maple Leafs.
After a labor-intensive training camp, Michel Therrien’s squad can finally begin its quest to build on the success it achieved last season, finishing atop the now-defunct Northeast Division. The Habs are now a member of the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Divison.
The Montreal faithful will see a Canadiens team this season that is very similar to that of 2012-13, albeit with a few new faces added to the mix, including Daniel Briere and George Parros. While Briere will make his regular season debut with the Canadiens against Toronto, it has yet to be confirmed whether Parros will be in the lineup as well. The Habs’ newest enforcer did not suit up for any of the team’s preseason tilts due to injury, but was given the green light from medical staff to return to active duty several days ago.
One Hab who will not be in uniform come Tuesday night is Douglas Murray. The veteran defenseman will be sidelined for four to six weeks after suffering an upper-body injury on Sunday. In his absence, Therrien will turn to Jarred Tinordi, who finished the 2012-13 season in Montreal. Based on what lines the Canadiens have featured at practice over the last several days, prospect Michel Bournival, who also earned a roster spot with the big club, could likely be watching the season-opener from the press box.
The Maple Leafs also made several changes to their squad over the summer, adding goaltender Jonathan Bernier, in addition to forwards Dave Bolland and David Clarkson. Clarkson, however, will be unable to help his teammates on Tuesday night because he’ll be serving the first game of a 10-game suspension for leaving the Toronto bench during a fight in the preseason.
While the Leafs haven’t yet confirmed whether Bernier or James Reimer will get the start in goal, Therrien has indicated that Carey Price will be between the pipes for the Habs for the first game of the year.
Like their Canadiens last season, the Maple Leafs decided to keep their first-round selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, defenseman Morgan Rielly, in the fold to start the season. It remains uncertain whether Rielly will take part in Tuesday night’s tilt, however, because the Leafs currently have seven healthy defensemen.
The game will be the first of five meetings between the two teams this season. The Canadiens won two of the five matchups with the Maple Leafs in 2012-13, but failed to earn a victory over Toronto at the Bell Centre.
Tuesday’s game will mark the 15th time that Montreal and Toronto will do battle to open their respective seasons. The Leafs have won nine of the 14 previous meetings on opening night.
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