Montreal Canadiens: Three Players To Watch vs Toronto Maple Leafs

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 03: Brett Kulak #77 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 03: Brett Kulak #77 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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The Montreal Canadiens return to action tonight! It is just an exhibition game, but these three players have to show something.

The Montreal Canadiens have not played a game in ….carry the one…. how many days are in April?…… their last one was on March 10 so…. 140 days. That is about as long as a regular offseason for a team that doesn’t make the playoffs. It has been a while.

Tonight’s game is just an exhibition game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, it is the team’s only exhibition game before they start their Best-of-5 play-in series with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Habs first exhibition game is normally the first of about eight or nine and would feature about ten players who have no chance of making the team.

Tonight’s game will be different. With just one game to get ready for a postseason series, tonight’s lineup will be very close to the one that takes the ice on Saturday to play the Penguins. Teams are allowed to use an extra forward and an extra defenceman tonight, so there will be 20 skaters instead of 18, but it will feature all of the team’s best players.

Usually in exhibition games, veteran players are just going through the motions, trying not to get hurt and working toward feeling like they are ready to play an actual game soon. There is often a handful of young players trying to stand out and get the team’s attention in an effort to make the team.

The Habs won’t have any long shot hopefuls in the lineup tonight, but there will be a handful of players who have to prove something. While much of the roster is set for the series against Pittsburgh, there is still some prominent ice time up for grabs.

It’s pretty obvious that Phillip Danault is not going to lose his spot between Tomas Tatar and Brendan Gallagher, and a bad pass from Shea Weber isn’t going to lead to him being benched against the Penguins.

However, these three players are going to have to step up tonight and prove they belong in the lineup when the games start for real.