Randy Carlyle will debut tonight as the Toronto Maple Leafs new head coach when they take on their arch rivals the Montreal Canadiens. Carlyle was brought in to replace Ron Wilson because the Leafs fell out of playoff contention and stopped responding to Wilson’s coaching tactics. Carlyle is a coach that is known to be hard on his players and he expects his team to play a hard, mean game of hockey.
In the four previous meetings this season each team has won 2 games but both teams have terrible records as of late. The Leafs have won only 1 in their last 11 games and the Canadiens haven’t done much better winning only 3 of their last 10. I don’t know if you can say much about any player on these teams being on a hot streak but Toronto’s Joffrey Lupul has recorded points in back-to-back games and David Desharnais has 3 goals and 3 assists in the last 3 games for the Canadiens.
The Canadiens are likely to be without Aaron Palushaj and Scott Gomez tonight due to eye injuries. The healthy Toronto Maple Leafs will look to capitalize on the injuries of the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens are still down Andrei Markov, Brian Gionta, Travis Moen and Mathieu Darche. The Leafs will be out for blood as the Canadiens embarrassed them during their last meeting at the Air Canada Center shutting them out 5-0 on Mats Sundin night.
I would expect tonight to be a rough, fast paced hockey game. It’s a time of desperation for both of these teams but more so for the Toronto Maple Leafs if they plan on making it to the playoffs. The playoff hopes of the Montreal Canadiens have all but disappeared and they really aren’t feeling as much pressure as the Leafs are as of late. The Leafs were even booed out of their own arena last Wednesday night when they lost 5-4 to the Chicago Blackhawks.
The games between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens are always unpredictable and exciting. With the way these teams are playing recently I would expect nothing different. The Canadiens played a very physical game against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night. They earned the win and it was the most exciting Canadiens game I had seen in a while. If they come out hitting tonight like they were on Thursday then we should be in for a very entertaining hockey game. I am sure Randy Carlyle’s message to the Leafs players is to play a hard physical hockey game and stay strong for the whole 60 minutes.
It is really hard to say who will come out on top tonight. Will the coaching change be what the Leafs need to turn their season around or will the Canadiens new roughness lead them to their 2nd victory in a row? Only time will tell. Stay to for all you hockey updates!