It’s Habs week in Toronto.
Back in the fall, the NHL schedule makers set up the North Division season to end with a bang. They pitted the Leafs against the Canadiens for the last game of the season. That plan didn’t survive the realities of a pandemic season, and the Leafs actually finish next week on the road. In the meantime, three games vs the Canadiens fill this six days in May.
Game 52: Maple Leafs @ Canadiens – 7:00 p.m. Monday, May 2, on TSN2, SNO, RDS
Game 53: Canadiens @ Maple Leafs – 7:00 p.m. Thursday, May 5, on TSN4, TSN2, RDS
Game 54: Canadiens @ Maple Leafs – 7:00 p.m. Saturday, May 8, on HNIC, Sportsnet, CBC, and streaming at CBC Gem
We won’t know what the lineups are for these games often until warmups each day, as the Maple Leafs will be looking to rest players, and the Canadiens are struggling to find a winning lineup, while both teams are capped out to the extreme.
It seems very unlikely that the Leafs can work some cap magic to play Frederik Andersen, and if Riley Nash is ready, that’s tricky to accomplish too. Rasmus Sandin will play out the regular season with Zach Bogosian on LTIR, but Ben Hutton might play this week. Adam Brooks has been added to the regular roster (he was on an emergency callup) and he’s likely to play that 4C spot this week.
Sheldon Keefe said #Leafs didn’t need to overwork Jack Campbell since he’s playing tomorrow, hence his early practice departure.
Justin Holl is “doing well, but uncomfortable.” He won’t play tomorrow, but not expected to miss any long stretch of time.
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) May 2, 2021
Montreal is missing Jonathan Drouin who is away for personal reasons, with no timeline on his return available. Carey Price has been out of action again, this time with a concussion, so his return is hard to predict. Tomas Tatar, Paul Byron and Shea Weber are day-to-day. Brendan Gallagher is not likely to be back before the playoffs. Jake Allen will start in net on Monday, but Price is expected to be skating by Tuesday, so may appear later on in the week.
Montreal is playing Cole Caufield as often as they can, but he’s expensive when using LTIR to add him, since he has performance bonuses that have to be accounted for. This is the same limitation the Leafs have with Timothy Liljegren, meaning he can only be added to the roster with the LTIR pool at its current size. Once the regular season is mercifully over, both teams can stop the cap shenanigans and get on with the games that matter.
In the meantime, let’s predict the points in this series. There are six to nine points to be won here, so what do the Leafs get?