The Toronto Maple Leafs head into Montreal to open up the NHL season against the Canadiens. After an offseason of change, the Maple Leafs debut their new look line up to kick off their pursuit of a second straight playoff birth…kind of.
Prized offseason acquisitions David Clarkson and Jonathan Bernier will have to wait to make their blue & white debut. Clarkson will not make his first appearance until October 25th as he will need to serve a 10-game suspension for being a bonehead during preseason.
Bernier’s time to shine on the other hand will only be postponed by a day as Randy Carlyle has elected to let incumbent starter James Reimer start the season opener in what can be viewed as a symbolic gesture. Bernier will get the second start of the season as the Leafs head into Philadelphia for their second game in as many days tomorrow.
The Leafs (likely) line up tonight is as follows (fancy infographic compliments of the Maple Leafs website)
The forward lineups provide some mild surprises with Nikolai Kulemin slotting into the second line, as opposed to Mason Raymond, and with Troy Bodie skating on the third line instead of Carter Ashton.
With McClement and Ashton on the 4th line it will be interesting if Carlyle decides to double shift some of his more competent wingers for Colton Orr to take advantage of some match ups
Morgan Rielly not making it into the line up for Game 1 is a bit of a disappointment, I was pretty excited to see the youngster thrown into the fire, I’m assuming he’ll get into game action tomorrow however.
It’s nice to see Cody Franson skating with Jake Gardiner, both players are exceptional puck movers that can fly on the ice. I felt that Franson was sometimes held back by Fraser last season, so seeing that leash renews my belief that he’s going to have a monster season.