While it is only an exhibition game, hockey fans are pleased that their beloved sport is returning.
With teams entering their respective bubbles in either Toronto or Edmonton, we’re now ready to see hockey being played.
Two original six teams and longtime rivals headline tonight’s exhibition games. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens are gearing up for the playoffs, so don’t expect this contest to be leisurely in any way.
※ Current Odds Date & Time: July 28th, 1:30 P.M. (EST)
Online bookmaker 10Bet has the Maple Leafs at -105 on the Money Line.
Before the NHL was shutdown, the Canadiens owned the Maple Leafs in the regular season. In their three games, Montreal walked away without a loss.
Sure, this is just an exhibition game, but both teams are trying to get their feet under them before playoff games begin. Toronto will face Columbus on the qualifying round, while the Canadiens face Pittsburgh.
One of the biggest stories for Toronto in this shutdown was Auston Matthews testing positive for COVID-19. While he says he is healthy and ready to go, it will be interesting to see how Matthews plays tonight.
The same could be said about the rest of the players as well. Both teams have had prolonged absences from the sport, other than training and scrimmages. Exhibition games simulate real games and this is no preseason game before the regular season.
Toronto and Montreal had a finite amount of time to be prepared for the playoffs and every minute counts. While this game could start out slow, expect the intensity to amplify throughout the game.
No word on which players are scratched, but I would expect playoff lineups (with slight tweaks) tonight. Minutes played will be another metric to consider as well for both teams.