Series (Game 1 of 6)

Series tied 3-3

Game 1: Thursday, October 7th
Maple Leafs3
Game 2: Saturday, November 20th
Maple Leafs0Final
Game 3: Saturday, December 11th
Maple Leafs3
Game 4: Saturday, February 12th
Maple Leafs0Final
Game 5: Thursday, February 24th
Maple Leafs5Final
Game 6: Saturday, April 9th
Maple Leafs1

Canadiens 2

(0-1-0, 0 pts)

Maple Leafs 3

(1-0-0, 2 pts)

Coverage: RDS

7:00 PM ET, October 7, 2010

Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

1 2 3 T
MTL 1 0 12
TOR 2 0 13

J. Giguere (Maple Leafs - G): Saves: 26, Save Pct.: .929

C. MacArthur (Maple Leafs - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

P. Kessel (Maple Leafs - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Canadiens-Maple Leafs Preview


The Montreal Canadiens traded the most important player from their surprise run to the Eastern Conference finals, and they may return to the ice without Jaroslav Halak's replacement as well as the NHL's top postseason scorer.

They won't find much sympathy from the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are still trying to end the longest playoff drought in franchise history.

The league's oldest rivals both face plenty of uncertainty as they open the season Thursday night at the Air Canada Centre, where Montreal will likely be lacking both Carey Price and Michael Cammalleri.

Although the Canadiens (39-33-10) barely qualified for the postseason as the East's No. 8 seed last season, they shocked top-seeded Washington and reigning champion Pittsburgh -- both in seven games -- before losing to Philadelphia in the conference finals.

The biggest factor for Montreal was the play of Halak, whose .923 save percentage in the playoffs was tops in the league and included more than 40 saves in three of the wins against the Capitals. The Canadiens, however, dealt him to St. Louis for young forwards Lars Eller and Ian Schultz in the offseason.

Instead of Halak, general manager Pierre Gauthier chose the 23-year-old Price to carry the load in net. Price was the No. 5 overall draft pick in 2005, but he finished an unsteady 2009-10 season with a 13-20-5 record and drew jeers during some poor preseason performances.

"We all appreciate what Jaro did and the player he was for us," Cammalleri said, "but I'll flip that coin real quick and tell you that we're excited about Carey's opportunity. We have a lot of confidence in Carey Price."

Price, however, may have to wait to make an impact. He's likely to miss the opener with the flu, leaving newcomer Alex Auld to start.

Cammalleri, the 2010 playoff leader with 13 goals, is also out as he serves a one-game suspension for an illegal slash during the preseason. Plus, defenseman Andrei Markov remains sidelined following knee surgery.

Still, much of Montreal's core remains relatively unchanged following Gauthier's first offseason, including coach Jacques Martin and top centers Tomas Plekanec and Scott Gomez.

The Canadiens have a new on-ice leader in Brian Gionta, who led Montreal with 28 goals during the 2009-10 regular season. Gionta was named the second American captain in franchise history last week.

"It's obviously quite an honor," Gionta said. "I'm real excited about it. ... I don't think things will change too much. You guys saw what it was all about last year. I'm more a leader by example."

The Maple Leafs (30-38-14) also have a new captain in defenseman Dion Phaneuf, who fills a post that had been vacant since the 2008 departure of Mats Sundin.

Phaneuf, acquired from Calgary on Jan. 31, is the biggest of many recent additions by general manager Brian Burke, who is hoping to help the Leafs reach the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

"My view of the organization since I got here has been that we didn't want to win badly enough," Burke said. "We've turned that group over, we think we have a group that wants to win and will pay the price to win, and we'll find out starting on Thursday if I'm right or not."

Phil Kessel scored 30 goals last season after Burke acquired him from Boston, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere enters this season as the top goalie after arriving via trade from Anaheim on Jan. 31.

The Leafs' most significant trade this summer netted them left wing Kris Versteeg, who contributed 14 points during Chicago's Stanley Cup run. Coach Ron Wilson has been using Versteeg on the top line with Kessel and 24-year-old center Tyler Bozak, who had 27 points in 37 games as a rookie last season.

Toronto also retained standout defenseman Tomas Kaberle, who had been the subject of trade rumors as he enters the final year of his contract.

The Leafs will be especially eager for a good start after losing their first eight games last fall, with their lone point in that stretch coming in a 4-3 overtime loss to Montreal in the opener.

Five of the six meetings last season between the Canadian Original Six rivals were decided in overtime or a shootout.