Plus Ca Change. . .?
Can't say the Leafs haven't tried to change, or haven't tried to fix their problems.
The team that hits the ice tonight against the storied Montreal Canadiens will have at most eight of the same players who lined up to play the Habs in the home opener one year ago.
That game came earlier, Oct. 1st, as part of the compressed Olympic schedule, a clash between two teams that both went into the season without a captain. On defence, the Leafs dressed Luke Schenn, Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin. Jonas Gustavsson was the goalie in reserve. Up front, there was Mikhail Grabovski, Colton Orr, Jay Rosehill and John Mitchell.
Coming into this season, only those players are back. Phil Kessel, of course, was in the Leaf organization, but wasn't ready for opening night because of off-season shoulder surgery. Today, Rosehill is in the minors and Mitchell may or may not dress, so well in excess of half the lineup will have changed over one calendar year.
That's a heckuva lot of turnover.
The Habs, you'll recall, won the game in OT. Mike Cammalleri undressed Schenn and Josh Gorges pounced on the rebound. Carey Price was terrific with 43 saves, while Vesa Toskala made 23 in the Leaf net. Matt Stajan, with two, and Alexei Ponikarovsky scored for the Leafs. The home team led 3-2 with just over four minutes to play, but Glen Metropolit tied the contest, setting up Gorges' winner with 13 seconds left. It was a sign of the magic that would later show up for Montreal in the playoffs, while it the beginning of a miserable season for the Leafs.
Now, both teams come into this campaign with newly decorated captains, Dion Phaneuf for the Leafs and Brian Gionta for Montreal. Cammalleri won't play because of suspension, while Price is under the gun in net but also may not play because of illness.
The characters are different. In a matter of hours, we'll find out if the script has changed.
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