Maple Leafs open their season at home against the Canadiens
Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
By Joseph Zita1 month ago
The time is finally here. Toronto Maple Leafs regular season hockey is back, and we get to see them in action tonight against one of their oldest rivals. The 2023-24 NHL season opened last night with three games on the schedule, but tonight, the Maple Leafs get things going as they play host to the Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Arena.
Maple Leafs’ lineup:
After a bunch of preseason games and barely getting to see everyone together in the same game, tonight will be the first game where everyone (this time, including Jarnkrok) will be dressed.From the top to the bottom line and even one of the defence pairings, some players are set to make their Maple Leafs debut in front of the home fans tonight.Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi, Fraser Minten (NHL debut), Noah Gregor, Ryan Reaves and John Klingberg are all newcomers to the Toronto Maple Leafs this season.
According to David Alter from The Hockey News, these were the lines at practice for Toronto yesterday.
Nothing is too out of the ordinary here. Bertuzzi is still with Matthews and Marner, Tavares is still with Nylander, with Nylander moving back to the wing with Fraser Minten making the opening night roster and taking that third-line centre role, Knies is still with Jarnkrok as Domi moves up to play the wing, and the fourth line is still the same.
For the defence pairings, Rielly remains with Brodie, McCabe is still paired with Klingberg, and the third pairing consists of two guys we’ve seen play a lot together, Mark Giordano and Timothy Liljegren.
For Toronto’s opponents tonight, the Montreal Canadiens, these were their lines in yesterday’s practice before they made the trip to Toronto.
Caufield – Suzuki – Anderson
Newhook – Dach – Slafkovsky
Pearson – Monahan – Gallagher
Harvey-Pinard – Evans – Ylonen/Pezzetta
Matheson – Savard
Guhle – Kovacevic
Harris – Barron
Montreal’s lines are pretty straightforward. They are still a team projected to finish at the bottom of the standings but have a handful of young players continuing to take the next step in their development. They could be a fun team to watch this season with how many young players they have at the NHL level.
Players to watch:
There’s going to be a lot of different players to watch out for in tonight’s game, however, I’ll pick three for the sake of not picking half the lineup.
The first player to watch tonight is none other than Tyler Bertuzzi. We all know what he brings to the lineup, and we’ve seen him have successful seasons in Detroit and Boston. However, his preseason wasn’t the best, and that could be due to him not wanting to go 100% and risk injury due to his history, but on a line with two of the best players in the league, if healthy, Bertuzzi could have a monster season in the blue and white.
Max Domi, the son of Maple Leafs legend Tie Domi, is another player to watch tonight.
The 28-year-old has embraced coming to Toronto to wear that Maple Leaf like his father did back in the day, and with his skill set in the top six alongside players like Tavares and Nylander, Domi could replicate his 2018-19 season when he put up 72 points with the Canadiens.
The last player to watch tonight is Fraser Minten, who is set to make his NHL debut.
Originally drafted 38th overall in 2022, Minten has skyrocketed up the Maple Leafs prospect rankings. He came into training camp this year and shocked everybody, forcing their hand to put him in the opening night lineup.
Not one person predicted Minten would’ve made the opening night roster, and if you did, you’re lying. It was pretty much everyone thinking he was going to take another step in his development, improve from last year’s training camp, and go back to the WHL for one more season, then push for a roster spot in 2024-25. Well, we all thought wrong.
The 19-year-old has had a tremendous training camp and earned it as he is rewarded with the duties of third-line centre tonight at home against one of their oldest rivals.
You can watch tonight’s game at 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT on Sportsnet.
Recent articles from Joseph Zita