Montreal Canadiens
Toronto Maple Leafs
Thu, May 20 - 7:30p ET   |   NHL   |    Scotiabank Saddledome
By Landon Smith

Montreal Canadiens vs Toronto Maple Leafs NHL North Division Semifinals Game 1 Preview and Free Picks

Montreal Canadiens Will Try to Get a Win When Meet Toronto Maple Leafs from Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Ontario - NHL Hockey Match Preview and Prediction Game on Thursday, May 20, 2021.

Preview, Prediction and Picks

On Thursday, hockey's greatest rivalry will be breathed new life when the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1 of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoff series.

Montreal has won eight of the 15 all-time playoffs between the two franchises, and this year's series marks the first Leafs-Habs playoff game since 1979. 173 regular-season games have been played between the Maple Leafs and Habs since the 1979 playoffs, Anticipation is high for the return to the game of what is at stake in the postseason.

The Maple Leafs' last playoff victory over the Canadiens came in the 1967 Stanley Cup final, which also marked the last NHL Championship in Toronto. After finishing first in the North Division, the Leafs hope to finally end their Cup drought.

Toronto hasn't won a playoff series since 2004, going 0-for-5 in its last five playoff trips.

These losses to the Leafs have often been attributed to an inability to handle the greater physiognomy of the playoffs, and it is no mystery that the Canadiens plan to use tight defense and rigorous game to counter the Maple Leafs, who have the best. punctuation.

After going 7-2-1 in 10 regular-season games against the Habs, Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said his team was "used" to Montreal style.

The Canadiens beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the best of five qualifying rounds of the 2020 Extended Playoffs. That success has created higher expectations for the 2020-2021 season, and the playoffs now give Montreal a fresh start after a quarter. place.

Injury has been a key factor in the Canadiens 'inconsistency, and several of their regular absentees are expected to play in Game 1. Gallagher (broken thumb) missed the Canadiens' last 21 games, Shea Weber (injury in upper body) missed the last eight. games and Phillip Danault (concussion) has missed the last three games.

Starting goalkeeper Carey Price will only play his third game since April 5. Price missed six games with a lower body injury before returning for two starts and suffering a concussion, putting him on the sidelines for the final 13 games of Montreal's regular season.

Price is a 70-game playoff veteran, while Toronto goalkeeper Jack Campbell will make his first playoff appearance in his sixth NHL season.

Campbell was 17-3-2 with an average of 2.15 goals against and a .921 save percentage this season, reinforcing what had been a questionable goalkeeping situation for the Leafs.

Zach Hyman and Riley Nash are expected to return from a knee injury for Game 1. Hyman has missed Toronto's last 11 games, while Nash has yet to make his debut with the Maple Leafs since he was acquired on April 9. with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Auston Matthews led all Leafs and Canadiens players with 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in the 10-game series.

The second game will be played on Saturday in Toronto.


WINNER: Toronto Maple Leafs @ -200

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By Landon Smith, on 7:30p ET