Welcome to the What to Watch segment! Your key NHL game to post on the radar for your weekend hockey viewing.
For this weekend’s pick I will have to go with the Montreal Canadiens at the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday. Two Original-Six clubs that are battling it out for bragging rights on a special Saturday – Hockey Day In Canada!
Keys to victory for the Canadiens:
–Four on the Floor: The Habs are on a nice little roll coming into this one. They’ve won three straight, and need to forget all the hype of playing on Hockey Day in Canada against their oldest rivals. They need that fourth win in a row, as they sit 11th in the Eastern Conference, nine points out of the final playoff spot.
–Monkey Off the Back: Scott Gomez is the Canadiens highest paid player at $7.5 million annually. He had not scored in a year, and finally got the monkey off his back Thursday with his first tally in 369 days! This was hanging over both the player and the team, with media and fans dredging it up game after game. With Gomez finally breaking the ‘goose-egg’, maybe he can get back to helping the team win some games down the stretch. A few points in Toronto Saturday would be a good start.
–Pac-Man: Max Pacioretty is having a career season despite Montreal’s woes.He had his first career hat-trick Thursday against the Islanders, and has reached the 20 goal plateau for the first time. He has come a long way since he suffered a broken neck last season, after a Zdeno Chara hit. If he’s on his game Saturday, the Habs could rain on the Leafs parade in Toronto.
Keys to victory for the Maple Leafs:
–Two and Out: The Buds have lost two straight coming into Hockey Day in Canada. Despite the mini-slump, the team is 6-3-1 in their past ten games. They have climbed back into the playoff hunt, and sit in eighth place in the East. They will need to tighten up in their own end to win under the pressure Saturday, and stay ahead of Washington for the last post-season spot.
–Air Canada Seat Sale: The Leafs have been loving life on home ice. The Air Canada Centre has been a tough place for visitors to play this season, and Toronto is 16-8-4 there thus far. The ACC will be buzzing Saturday night, especially if the Leafs can score first and get the crowd behind them. A good start against the Habs could be the main ingredient for victory.
–Happy 30th: Phil Kessel is having a great season in blue and white. He has reached the 30-goal plateau for the fourth straight year, and is leading the Leafs with 60 points in 55 games. He’s found incredible chemistry with Joffrey Lupul (58 points), and if these two continue their strong play at home, then the Leafs should beat the Canadiens Saturday.
Enjoy Hockey Day in Canada and this match-up! It should be an intense game, and it’s always entertaining when Original-Six teams collide on a Saturday night. Post any comments or observations you have about the ‘What to Watch‘ game in the ‘Mailbag‘ section, and I will gladly respond! Have a great NHL weekend.
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