The Maple Leafs (optional) and the Montreal Canadiens skated at the Bell Center on Saturday.
With goalscorer Cole Corfield out of the season, the injury-stricken Montreal Canadiens face an even bigger challenge the rest of the way.
“It’s really disappointing,” said defenseman Jordan Harris. “He’s the heart and soul of our team. He kept pace with 50 goals and everything. I definitely feel a lot of disappointment around the locker room.”
“He’s a big part of our offense,” said defenseman David Savard. “What he brings to our team, you know, not many people can do that. It’s a tough day for us for sure.”
It may be even tougher at the Leafs in town. Toronto has won two in a row this week and is looking to get revenge after the Canadiens defeated his rival 4-3 on opening night.
“They’re going to play with a lot of energy and a lot of emotion,” warned coach Sheldon Keef. I expect the best from them.They play with a lot of emotion against us.Even without Caulfield they are still very dangerous in transition. and there are a lot of people who can get [lost] Stay behind you and take advantage of it. So there are many reasons why we are dialed that way. ”
But Corfield isn’t the only one missing. Also absent are July Slafkowski, Brendan Gallagher, Paul Byron, Sean Monaghan, Jake Evans, Joel Armia, Jake Allen and Kaiden Goulet.
Leafs veteran winger Wayne Simmons said, “Every time we play against this team, it’s a very challenging game.” there is.”
Captain John Tavares said, “There’s always a buzz in the streets and in the buildings.” You have to step in, go out and run, and be tough to play against.”
Orston Matthews scored in his fourth straight game and had his most dominant performance of the season on Thursday.
“When that guy gets hot, he gets hot,” Harris said.
Matthews is a slippery sniper.
“He’s a guy who moves around a lot on the ice,” said Savard. “He’s not a motionless guy. We knew where he was. Cover him well, take the passing lane and don’t give him too much time and he’ll be fine.”
The team did their best to Matthews’ game plan last season, but he still scored 60 goals in just 72 appearances. He’s become like his MVP a year ago.
“He’s starting to dial it in here,” Simmons said. “Last year around this time, he started scoring every game.”
Last season, Matthews scored in 26 of 37 games from January 8 to April 9.
“He’s played good hockey for us, but he’s got another gear, another level,” Keef said. “You got a glimpse of it the other night. Obviously our team will get a boost from it. I hope it continues here.”
The team is still talking about the move that saw Matthews score his first goal against Winnipeg. He beat Mark Scheifel before beating Connor Hellebuick’s five holes.
“We just made it look so easy,” surprised newcomer Bobby McMann. “You’re like, ‘That’s great. There’s worldly talent out there.'” It’s great to be in ”
Matthews, who scored two goals on Thursday, tied with team lead William Nylander on 24. Matthews is heading to his All-Star game next month in Sunrise, Florida. Since he entered the league, he has been invited to all six innings held, while Nylander is still waiting for his first invite.
“Willie is definitely an All-Star and has had a great season,” Tavares said. “Obviously, he’s had a great year. I’ve always thought it was important.It’s important to be noticed.”
The All-Star Game pits teams representing four divisions against each other 3v3. Each team has his nine skaters and his two goalkeepers.
How can the NHL reduce the number of snubs?
“Whether it’s just expanding the roster or not, it’s something worth noting,” Tavares said.
Canadiens defenseman Arbor Zekai is tied for first in the league with eight Fighting Majors. He is also 11th overall in hits.
“He’s a big boy and he’s not afraid to use his body,” Leafs winger Michael Bunting said.
The undrafted 21-year-old, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 238 pounds, leads the NHL in 92 penalty minutes.
“I give him a lot of credit,” Simmons said. He worked hard and continues to do so.He showed up in this league and proved he can play.”
Simmons says Hamilton, Ont. The Native reminds me of Kyle Clifford’s play in his youth when he entered the league in Los Angeles.
“He’s a big, burly guy who’s not afraid of anyone and always wants to prove himself,” Simmons said.
Simmons, 34, dropped his gloves five times as a rookie in 2008-09, but the league has changed a lot since then.
“I was definitely not shy,” Simmons recalls. “But at the same time, there were five or six people in every team back then, so it’s a little different now. But that doesn’t take anything away from what he’s done. He did a great job.” . “
Simmons will replace Dryden Hunt on the fourth line in Saturday’s game.
“Coming to Montreal on a Saturday night is always special,” said Scarborough, Ontario. native said. “The fans here will go wild. No matter where either team is, the games are always exciting, fast-paced and usually pretty physical too. So it’s definitely a good time.”
Ilya Samsonov restarts with Leafs. 3 games in a row since October.
“When he’s playing well, he gives our team more confidence,” said defenseman Morgan Riley. “You can see when he feels it. He’s a confident guy on the ice and what that translates to on the ice is he’s playing really well for us.”
Samsonov had a season-high 37 shots against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday. He also made a big impression on the ice.
“He’s a pretty funny guy,” Simmons said. “We play cards together. He’s sitting across from me, so I’m having a good time with Sammy.”
What about Samsonov’s poker face?
“He’s a wild card,” Simmons said with a smile. “That’s for sure. When he’s with him, he doesn’t know what he’ll get himself into.”
As the Leafs veer away from the 5-forward look on the power play, Liery finds himself quarterbacking the top unit again.
“You just want to be effective,” Rielly said. I want to be great when it comes to breakouts, making shots and moving it.”Making good passes from the top. ”
Toronto went to a five-forward alignment when Lilly was sidelined with a knee injury. He has appeared in 11 games since returning and seems to be getting his rhythm back since pairing with Timothy Liljegren on Tuesday.
The Leafs looked dangerous, but with Riley back in the top unit on Thursday, they were unable to convert their power play chances.
“I’m just trying to be the best I can be out there,” Rielly said. will help.”
Eight of Riley’s 21 assists this season have come from power plays.
“He’s not known for big one-times or big bombs off the top, but he’s got a tremendous snapper,” Tavares said. Have had him out there for a while and have a good sense of his game and instincts and how he reads plays.So a tremendous amount of trust.A lot of responsibility with power play but he handles it very well.”
The Canadiens conceded four goals in a short-handed loss to the Florida Panthers on Thursday. His kills in Montreal’s penalty dropped him to his 27th place in the NHL with 73.7%.
Saturday marks two weeks since TJ Brody suffered a rib injury. Initial expectations were for the defense to be out for about two weeks. where do things stand now?
Keef said, “The last few days have been the most positive and I have no timeline other than to say he’s feeling better. ‘I don’t think it’s going to be much longer.'”
After missing Friday’s practice for maintenance, Calle Jarnkrok skated on Saturday.
Saturday’s schedule line:
Bunting – Matthews – Nylander
Jaan Clock – Tavares – Marner
Aston Lease – Carfoot – Simmons
Lily – Lillie Glen
Giordano – Hall
Sandin – Timmins