WHEN OLD RIVALS MEET (PRE GAME OPINIONS)
It's Saturday, there's a game on, and Toronto is involved! Their opponent, none other than the Montreal Canadiens. The importance of this match is huge for both clubs, but the reasons are completely different. One is trying for home ice advantage, the other is trying to stay in the playoffs. Its the Leafs and Habs on Saturday! OHHHHH BABY!
Obviously, the two teams won't get in a brawl like the picture above shows. But none the less, this is another exciting match-up between the historic rivals. However, the next two days will be huge for the Leafs, because there is not much time left until the playoffs begin, and every win counts. The Leafs currently have 80 points and sit in the first wild card spot. However, they are only three points back of Montreal. If the Leafs can win tonight, and tomorrow in New Jersey, it will be a trip back to the top three in the Atlantic.
Here are the three things that need to happen for a Leaf win:
1) Pray that Bernier and Bolland will play
These two players are an important part of this team, and their presence on the ice would be a huge plus for the Leafs. Bolland has not played an NHL game since November 2, and Bernier has been out for over a week. If one of the two, or both of them are able to play tonight, it would give the Leafs a much better chance to win then if they are not in.
2) End the first period woes
The last four games have shown a huge flaw for the Leafs, and it is their tendency to give up first period goals. Only once were the Leafs able to come away with the win, and it was in LA (my first blog). An easy way to prevent this kind of break down is to: A) Come more prepared, B) Tighter defense all game, and C) Play more desperate. Once the Leafs survive the first without letting in a goal against them, it should give them some confidence and end a silly drought.
3) Play more desperate all game long
Every single player in the Leaf locker room knows it, and so do the fans. The Leafs need to play every game with a desperation for the playoffs. The Maple Leafs did show signs of it in the previous game against Tampa, but it still needs a lot of work. Very simply, "If you play every single game like it is a playoff game, then you will play more desperately and put it all on the line."
This rivalry doesn't seem to get old, even though recent meetings have had little meaning to them. I read in an article that the Leafs-Habs rivalry is the second most overrated! Hopefully both teams prove those writers wrong tonight! My prediction for this game is: this will be close and have a ton of goals scored, and it will go to a shootout. See you after the game!