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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, October 1st (All times Eastern)

Toronto Maple Leafs (0-0-0) at Montreal Canadiens (0-0-0), 7 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The 2013-14 NHL campaign kicks off Tuesday evening with the renewal of an old rivalry, as the Montreal Canadiens host the Toronto Maple Leafs in a season-opening clash at the Bell Centre.

The contest also marks the first game under the NHL's new realignment plan, which has broken the league down into four divisions while keeping the East and West conferences intact. Both the Canadiens and Maple Leafs are playing in the Atlantic Division, which also features Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Ottawa and Tampa Bay.

The Habs and Leafs are both aiming to return to the postseason after qualifying for the playoffs in the spring of 2013. It was Toronto's first trip to the playoffs since 2004, ending the longest postseason drought in franchise history.

Although the Leafs were assured of the club's most successful season in quite some time just by virtue of making the playoffs, it's difficult to call Toronto's campaign a success considering the way it ended.

The Leafs surprised just about everyone by pushing Boston to seven games in the opening round of the playoffs and then held a 4-1 third-period lead in Game 7 before suffering a monumental collapse. The Bruins would score three times in the final 10 minutes of regulation to send Game 7 into overtime and then won it 5-4 on a Patrice Bergeron goal in the extra session. Adding insult to injury, the hated Bruins went on to a Stanley Cup Finals appearance after eclipsing the Maple Leafs in the classic Game 7 battle.

No doubt spurred on by that nightmarish Game 7, the Leafs made numerous changes to their roster over the long offseason. Toronto general manager Dave Nonis not only acquired forwards David Clarkson and Dave Bolland and goaltender Jonathan Bernier over the summer, but he also decided to buy out the contracts of defenseman Mike Komisarek and forward Mikhail Grabovski.

Unfortunately, Clarkson, who signed a seven-year, $36.75 million contract with the Leafs over the summer, won't be available to make his debut for the franchise until Oct. 25. The 29-year-old was handed a 10-game suspension by the league for leaving the bench to join a brawl in an exhibition game against Buffalo on Sept. 22. Clarkson was brought in to relieve Toronto forwards Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul of some of their scoring duties, but the former New Jersey Devil will have to wait a while before he can help his new team on the ice.

Speaking of Kessel, the speedy winger is reportedly close to signing an eight- year contract extension to remain with the Leafs. The 25-year-old has led Toronto in both goals and points in each of his four seasons with the club.

Bernier and last season's starting netminder James Reimer are expected to battle for playing time in the early going. The 25-year-old Bernier, a first- round pick by Los Angeles in 2007, was acquired in an offseason trade with the Kings after spending time as Jonathan Quick's backup. Bernier went 9-3-1 with a 1.88 goals against average for L.A. during the lockout-shortened season of 2013, while Reimer was 19-8-5 with a 2.46 GAA in 33 games for Toronto.

Reimer is expected to get the start in Tuesday's opener and is 4-3-0 with a 2.69 GAA in eight career games against Montreal.

Although the Canadiens didn't fall apart in a Game 7 like the Maple Leafs did last spring, Montreal's 2013 postseason appearance was also one the franchise would rather forget. The Habs were the East's second seed in the spring, but were bounced out in just five games by the Ottawa Senators, who outscored the Canadiens by a combined 20-9 score in the lopsided series.

Montreal boasts some speedy but undersized players on offense and the reigning Norris Trophy winner in defenseman P.K. Subban, but as usual, goaltender Carey Price will be the player under the microscope in Game 1 of the regular season.

Price always seems to be a lightning rod for controversy in Montreal, and he certainly gave his detractors fuel for the fire with a lackluster showing last season.

Price turned in an average 2013 regular season, going 21-13-4 with a 2.59 goals against average and .905 save percentage in 39 games. The 26-year-old then suffered through an awful performance in the playoffs, posting a 3.26 GAA and .896 save percentage in four postseason games against Ottawa last spring before an injury caused him to miss Game 5.

Peter Budaj returns as the backup in net, but Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien hopes the Slovakian netminder's services aren't needed on opening night.

An upper-body injury will cause Montreal to begin the season without defenseman Douglas Murray, who was signed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract this summer, but team captain Brian Gionta is expected to play in the opener after undergoing surgery to his left biceps in the offseason.

"Playing well for long stretches will be the main challenge for all teams," Gionta recently told his club's official website. "The season is 82 games long and you have to find a way to play with consistency, to be competitive and to give yourself a chance to win every time."

The Maple Leafs and Habs are meeting for the first of five encounters this season. The clubs met five times last season, with Toronto claiming three of those contests to give it six victories over the past 11 games in this series.

Toronto also went 2-0 in Montreal last season and has won five times in its last six trips to the Bell Centre.

The Canadiens had a 14-7-3 record on home ice during the 2013 regular season, while Toronto was 13-8-3 on the road.

10/01 10:29:45 ET

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Schedule

Wednesday, April 16Full Scoreboard
Montreal «5Final(OT) | Box
Tampa Bay4Rink Replay
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game One. Montreal leads series, 1-0.
Columbus3Final | Box
Pittsburgh «4Rink Replay
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game One. Pittsburgh leads series, 1-0.
Dallas3Final | Box
Anaheim «4Rink Replay
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game One. Anaheim leads series, 1-0.
Full Scoreboard

Standings

2013 - 2014 NHL Eastern Conference Standings
 
Atlantic Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
p-Boston 54 19 9 117 261 177 31-7-3 23-12-6 18-9-3
x-Tampa Bay 46 27 9 101 240 215 25-10-6 21-17-3 19-8-3
x-Montreal 46 28 8 100 215 204 23-13-5 23-15-3 18-8-4
x-Detroit 39 28 15 93 222 230 18-13-10 21-15-5 17-8-5
Ottawa 37 31 14 88 236 265 18-17-6 19-14-8 14-9-7
Toronto 38 36 8 84 231 256 24-16-1 14-20-7 14-13-3
Florida 29 45 8 66 196 268 16-20-5 13-25-3 13-16-1
Buffalo 21 51 10 52 157 248 13-21-7 8-30-3 7-18-5
 
Metropolitan Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Pittsburgh 51 24 7 109 249 207 28-9-4 23-15-3 20-8-2
x-NY Rangers 45 31 6 96 218 193 20-17-4 25-14-2 16-11-3
x-Philadelphia 42 30 10 94 236 235 24-14-3 18-16-7 15-11-4
x-Columbus 43 32 7 93 231 216 22-15-4 21-17-3 16-13-1
Washington 38 30 14 90 235 240 21-13-7 17-17-7 12-15-3
New Jersey 35 29 18 88 197 208 21-11-9 14-18-9 16-9-5
Carolina 36 35 11 83 207 230 18-17-6 18-18-5 15-13-2
NY Islanders 34 37 11 79 225 267 13-19-9 21-18-2 10-16-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
2013 - 2014 NHL Western Conference Standings
 
Central Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Colorado 52 22 8 112 250 220 26-11-4 26-11-4 19-6-3
x-St. Louis 52 23 7 111 248 191 28-9-4 24-14-3 21-6-2
x-Chicago 46 21 15 107 267 220 27-7-7 19-14-8 13-13-3
x-Minnesota 43 27 12 98 207 206 26-10-5 17-17-7 14-12-3
x-Dallas 40 31 11 91 235 228 23-11-7 17-20-4 13-11-5
Nashville 38 32 12 88 216 242 19-17-5 19-15-7 12-13-4
Winnipeg 37 35 10 84 227 237 18-17-6 19-18-4 9-15-5
 
Pacific Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
z-Anaheim 54 20 8 116 266 209 29-8-4 25-12-4 22-4-3
x-San Jose 51 22 9 111 249 200 29-7-5 22-15-4 18-7-3
x-Los Angeles 46 28 8 100 206 174 23-14-4 23-14-4 16-10-3
Phoenix 37 30 15 89 216 231 22-14-5 15-16-10 14-9-6
Vancouver 36 35 11 83 196 223 20-15-6 16-20-5 12-13-4
Calgary 35 40 7 77 209 241 19-19-3 16-21-4 11-15-3
Edmonton 29 44 9 67 203 270 16-22-3 13-22-6 8-17-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CHA 91
CHI 86
Final
DUR 6
NOR 9
 
7:05pm Tonight
DUR
NOR
 
Final
CIN 4
PIT 0
Final
BAL 3
TAM 0
Final
NYY 3
CHC 0
Final
MIL 5
STL 1
Final
ARI 2
NYM 5
Final
PHI 0
ATL 1
Final
NYY 2
CHC 0
Final
DET 2
CLE 3
Final
MIA 3
WAS 6
Final
TEX 3
SEA 2
Final
CWS 4
BOS 6
Final
HOU 4
KAN 6
8:10pm Wednesday
MIN 0
TOR 0
Final
ANA 5
OAK 4
Final
SDP 4
COL 2
Final
SFG 2
LOS 1
1:05pm Today
PHI
ATL
 
1:08pm Today
DET
CLE
 
1:10pm Today
MIN
TOR
 
2:05pm Today
TEX
SEA
 
3:45pm Today
SFG
LOS
 
6:40pm Tonight
SDP
COL
 
7:05pm Tonight
PIT
MIL
 
7:05pm Tonight
WAS
STL
 
7:10pm Tonight
TAM
NYY
 
7:10pm Tonight
MIN
TOR
 
8:10pm Tonight
CWS
BOS
 
8:10pm Tonight
HOU
KAN
 
Final
CHA 91
CHI 86
Final
ORL 86
IND 101
Final
MIL 103
ATL 111
Final
CLE 114
BRK 85
Final
MEM 106
DAL 105
Final
OKC 112
DET 111
Final
NOP 105
HOU 100
Final
SAN 100
LAL 113
Final
MIA 87
PHI 100
Final
NYK 95
TOR 92
Final
MIN 130
UTA 136
Final
BOS 102
WAS 118
Final
DEN 112
GSW 116
Final
POR 110
LAC 104
Final
SAC 99
PHO 104
Final
TAM 4
MON 5
Final
PIT 4
CLB 3
Final
ANA 4
DAL 3
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
PHI
8:00pm Tonight
STL
CHI
9:30pm Tonight
COL
MIN
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
LOS
Final
DUR 6
NOR 9
 
7:05pm Tonight
DUR
NOR