Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageCanadiens, Leafs to battle, one plays for pride, one for playoffs

By Marcus Hondro     Mar 2, 2012 in Sports
The Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs don't need any added motivation when playing one another but on Saturday they'll have it. For Toronto, their season is on the line, while for Montreal, well, Toronto's season is on the line.
After all, when you're playing for pride, who better to play the spoiler against?
“Of course, it’s always nice to beat these guys,’’ Montreal's mercurial defenceman P.K. Subban told the media Friday after practice. “We love hype and the emotion. They (Leaf players) understand what’s at stake here. They haven’t made the playoffs in , um, quite a long time. They understand it’s these games that could prove to the be difference down the stretch."
Canadiens seek to damage Leafs playoff chances
For the record, there has not been playoff hockey in Toronto for 7 seasons, once an unthinkable scenario for a franchise that has hoisted the Stanley Cup 11 times. The last time though was in 1967 and haven't won it since the league began expanding. They won't win it this year but they are desperate to get to the postseason.
That desperation didn't show up at home against the Florida Panthers last Tuesday when the Leafs produced a lackluster effort against the only other franchise that's gone as long without a playoff appearance. The next night in Chicago, the Leafs lost 5-4 but looked better doing it. Still though, they didn't seem a team on the brink of bowing out of the playoff race.
Surely they will be in Montreal Saturday and coach Ron Wilson (note, late Friday news came that Ron Wilson was fired,replaced by Randy Carlye), put his team through a tough workout Friday to ignite that sense of desperation. Players got a little chippy and Wilson embraced it. "Our defence has to do a better job of pinning their checks," he said after practice. "We have to be a little more aggressive and we have to staple people better. It was good that they had a little bit of competition against each other."
Montreal vs. Toronto this NHL season
So far this season in the 4 games they've played one another each have won two, with a Toronto win coming in overtime courtesy a Mikhail Grabovski goal. For Toronto, captain Dion Phaneuf leads with 2 goals and 4 points against the Canadiens, Phil Kessel a goal and 2 assists. Joffrey Lupul has not scored against Montreal and is a -4.
For Montreal, unheralded Lars Eller has played 3 games against Toronto and has 2 goals and 4 points and is a plus4, while Rene Bourque has scored twice against Toronto in 2 games. Tomas Plekanec has 4 assists and former Leaf Tomas Kaberle has been kept off the scoresheet in 2 games against his old team.
Besides this match-up they end the season against one another on April 7, again in Montreal. If Toronto needs it to make the playoffs you can bet the game will seem more like a game 7 Stanley Cup final. And given the Leafs 1-9-1 slump and how badly they want out of it, and how badly Montreal wants Toronto to join them on the sidelines, this one, too, should be intense.
“Big game for both teams,’’ Subban said.
More about Toronto Maple Leafs, Maple Leafs vs Montreal Canadiens, Montreal canadiens, PK Subban, leafs coach ron wilson
More news from
Sports Video
Latest News
Top News