But historic familiarity is the least of either club's worries. They simply hope the players know their teammates.
The Canadiens marked the summer of their 100th anniversary by making a change for each year of existence, but it’s not like Bob Gainey broke up Toe Blake’s Habs.
Montreal had a dysfunctional group last season and change was warranted. Scott Gomez, Michael Cammalleri and Brian Gionta give the Habs firepower, if not size. If they are to succeed it may be up to big wingers Max Pacioretty, Guillaume Latendresse and Travis Moen to make sure they have room to roam and don’t spend every night picking themselves up off the ice.
The Leafs kids got all of the training camp attention, but most of that promise will open the season in the American League or back in junior while the biggest changes show up on the blue-line.
In Francois Beauchemin, Garnet Exelby and Mike Komisarek, the Leafs have added not only experience but size, not to mention about 500 hits a season. The test for the new smurf-like Canadien forwards should come from the beefy Toronto blue-line on night one.
On the hot stove:
Vesa Toskala has been surgically repaired. He has a new goalie coach, a better defence and no more excuses. Toskala has to fashion a bounce-back season that will be pivotal to the Leafs playoff hopes. Any decent NHL goaltending would have got the Leafs into the playoffs last season so Ron Wilson and Brian Burke won’t wait long to start a new era in goal if Toskala starts to look anything at all like he did last year.
Carey Price could use a bounce back as well. The young netminder’s meltdown late last season was frightening to watch, particularly because he looked like a deer in the headlights. Price didn’t seem to have a clue what was happening to him and sadly his body language suggested at times he didn’t care. He gets a do-over under Jacques Martin but the heat will be turned up in the Montreal pressure cooker the minute there’s a bad glove-side goal and slumping shoulders to go with it.
ISO camera on:
Mike Komisarek was one of 10 free agents the Canadiens let walk away and probably the one Bob Gainey least wanted to lose. He’ll be on Toronto’s top D pair with Tomas Kaberle and will almost immediately go after one of Gomez, Cammalleri or Gionta and try to knock them into the middle of next week. It’ll be interesting to see which of his former teammates goes after Komisarek first. Habs fans should hope that it’s Latendresse.
Tape room topic:
1:40 of the first period is the time I took in the pool for the first Georges Laraque/Colton Orr fight of the season series. Orr won’t be able to get over the boards fast enough to get it started, while Laraque may have to be reminded of his job but will respond with his usual couple of pile drivers.
From the stat pack:
Price was 0-2 with a 5.56 goals-against average and .866 save percentage against Toronto last season. Yikes!
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