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Habs vs. Leafs: 5 things to know before puck drop

10/08/2014 09:22 EDT | Updated 12/08/2014 05:59 EST
The Montreal Canadiens renew their storied rivalry with the Maple Leafs when the two clubs open the NHL's regular season at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Wednesday night (7 p.m. ET).

Here are five things to know prior to puck drop:

1. Price, Bernier in spotlight

Montreal goaltender Carey Price had a terrific 2013-14 season that included helping Canada to an Olympic gold medal in Sochi, Russia. He also guided the Canadiens to the Eastern Conference final before suffering an injury in Game 1 against the New York Rangers. But Price wasn’t at his best when he faced the Leafs, going 2-2 while also allowing 13 goals.

Leafs counterpart Jonathan Bernier is set to make his first opening-night start since 2007, when he played for the Kings. Like Price, Bernier had his ups and downs in last season's series, posting a 1-1-1 record with 11 goals allowed. 

2. Habs can’t solve Leafs in season openers

The Canadiens can’t seem to figure how to beat their long-time rivals on opening night. Montreal has lost its last four regular-season openers to the Leafs, including a 4-3 defeat at the Bell Centre last year. In fact, the last time the Habs defeated Toronto to start a season was a 4-3 overtime win in 2009.

3. Subban, Phaneuf high-priced blue-liners

The Habs are counting on defenceman P.K. Subban, who signed a nine-year, $72-million US contract in the off-season, to take the next step in his development. The charismatic blue-liner didn’t disappoint in five games against the Leafs last season, scoring two goals and adding four assists. Leafs blue-liner Phaneuf, who was part of several trade rumours despite re-signing for seven years and $49 million in 2013, continues to draw scorn from Leaf fans. Still, he provided some decent offensive output against the Habs with a goal and an assist.

4. Kessel, Pacioretty drive offensive engines

It’s no secret that the offensive engines for both teams are powered by Toronto’s Phil Kessel and Montreal’s Max Pacioretty. Kessel led the team with 37 goals and finished sixth in NHL scoring with 80 points. He was equally effective versus Montreal, tallying two goals and five assists. Pacioretty had the fourth-highest goal total in the NHL, scoring 39 times. He was also a Leaf killer in 2013-14, piling up five goals and two assists.

5. Canadiens still hold edge in all-time meetings

The Canadiens won three of their five games against the Leafs last season. They also have a significant all-time edge in the 724 games between the storied franchises. The Habs hold a 343-285-88-8 advantage over the Leafs, but are less than stellar when they play away from Montreal. In Toronto, the Leafs are 183-131-45-3 in 362 games.

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