Rabid Habs

Parade Of Lights

Habs' Brendan Gallagher

“Athletes are proud people. You want to play. You want to contribute to the team. When you’re not in the lineup, you end up just watching. It’s not fun. I’m really looking forward to getting back out there.” – Manny Malhotra

After coming off a 4-3 loss in overtime to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, the Montreal Canadiens were more than ready to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night at the Bell Centre. Saturday night’s contest not only falls on Hockey Day in Canada and Valentine’s Day, but tonight’s game also marks the 400th consecutive regular season sell out on home ice which makes the small rivalry between the two clubs even more exciting. Now, it’s time to take a look at the important stuff.

The last time the Maple Leafs and the Canadiens met was back in October for the season opener, where the Habs beat the Leafs in a four to three victory at the Air Canada Centre. Since then, the Canadiens have has their fair share of success, while the Maple Leafs have struggled throughout the season, losing 21 of their last 25 games. Toronto currently sit 25th in the league with a record of 23-29-4 while Montreal sits fourth in the league (first place in the Atlantic Division) with a home record of 19-7-3. While the Leafs have been on quite the losing streak, the Canadiens have also been known to having a losing streak of their own to teams who have sunk deep in the league. The question is, what will the Montreal Canadiens need to do in order to fix this error and win against the Toronto Maple Leafs once again? Well, they’ll need to keep extreme focus on the ice, stick to the game plan and play for the full 60 minutes, have better puck management, and be the first to light up the lamp. They’ll also need to play aggressive in both the offensive and defensive zone and with Mike Weaver and Manny Malhotra back in the line up for tonight’s game, none of this should be a problem. This will be the real test to see if the Canadiens can break the bottom feeder losing ritual and stay in first place.

After many penalties and aggressive play, Daniel Winnik (assisted by Richard Panik and Roman Polak) gave the Toronto Maple Leafs their first goal of the night with eight minutes and 41 seconds left of the first period. However, Brendan Gallagher (assisted by Tomas Plekanec and P.K. Subban) gave the Montreal Canadiens the power play goal they needed to tie up the game only 41 seconds after Winnik’s goal. Both teams seemed to be bringing a different kind of energy on the ice which was anything but pretty. David Clarkson in particular had it out for the Habs as he ended up with two penalties in the first period (five minutes for fighting with Nathan Beaulieu after a dirty hit on Sergei Gonchar and a five minute penalty for attempting to fight Brandon Prust). However, the Canadiens were able to put the pressure on hard as they kept the Leafs from taking the lead back and the first period ended with a one to one tie.

The Canadiens were managing to keep the pucks deep in the Toronto zone and while there were many opportunities to slip one past Jonathan Bernier, the Leafs were doing everything to stop the Habs from taking the lead. What seemed to be working for the Leafs, however, didn’t end up working out as planned. Despite keeping pressure on the Habs, no puck could slip past the smooth as butter Carey Price and the second period ended tied once again.

The Leafs opened up the period on the attack while the Canadiens were pushing to keep the pucks deep and bring the pressure on. While the Leafs were mildly successful with keeping the Habs out of their zone, the struggle from both teams to take the lead ended with the game going into overtime.

While the overtime turned into shootout, The Montreal Canadiens were able to finally break the bottom feeder barrier with David Desharnais getting the final shootout goal and the Habs finally won two to one against the Leafs.

Here are my thought’s on tonight’s game.

  • When it comes to rivalries facing each other during Saturday night hockey, no rivalry compares to the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Even though the Canadiens’ main rival are the Boston Bruins, there is no arguing that the energy is extremely different whenever the Habs and the Leafs face each other. There’s anger, there’s pressure, there’s speed, there’s a hell of a lot more penalties, and all of it is beautiful. If I personally had to pick only two teams to watch face each other for the rest of my life, it would definitely be the Canadiens and the Leafs.
  • I’m curious to know what the hell is up David Clarkson’s ass. I’m not saying this as a Habs fan but as someone who watches hockey overall. This guy was either pissed with the Canadiens succeeding in keeping the Leafs away from the Montreal zone or he’s just a straight up dick. Either way, with every NHL team you’re going to find your own Milan Lucic. Not cool, Clarkson. Not cool.

The Montreal Canadiens play the Detroit Red Wings at the Joe Louis Arena on Monday at 7:30pm.

(Purchase your Canadiens tickets here. | Achetez vos billets des Canadiens ici.)

Follow Jessica-Lyn on Twitter: @strucxtures.