After starting out as spectacular in his first game in the NHL with the Ottawa Senators, Maxime Lajoie is going to be launched in the boiling pot of a Battle of Ontario which is renewed on Saturday night in Toronto.
The defender rookie who went a goal and a pass in the back of 4-3 against Chicago on Thursday night knows a little bit about what to expect when the team of the national capital will disembark at the Scotiabank Arena (the new name of the former Air Canada Centre to face the Maple Leafs to Hockey Night in Canada.
“It is a little difficult to go back on earth (after such a first game), but here, my ‘focus‘ is just on the match against Toronto. It’s going to be a ‘game‘ lasts, but if it works as it did yesterday, I think we will be okay “, he stressed.
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With the Senators of Belleville in the american League last year, Lajoie had a mini-rivalry with the club-school of the Leafs, Marlies, Toronto.
“But this is not at the same level as Toronto. The atmosphere there is going to be amazing, I’m really excited to play that game tomorrow, ” noted the defender of 20 years old, who celebrated his match on Thursday with parents, grandparents, girlfriend and friends, in addition to having a phone that was filled with congratulatory messages.
At 18 h 53 minute of ice time, Lajoie has done much more than his goal and his pass, striking also a horizontal bar in addition to get three shots and blocked four others. He finished the game with a differential of plus-1 while playing with the veteran Dylan DeMelo, rear acquired from the Sharks in exchange for Erik Karlsson, who had a strong game.
Head coach Guy Boucher, however, had separated the duo in training on Friday, placing Lajoie alongside Cody This on what could well be his or her first pair, while Mark Borowiecki is returned alongside his usual partner, Chris Wideman. This is Thomas Chabot found alongside DeMelo.
“We’ll try different things, but also, on the road, we’re going to try to allocate responsibilities and see what our guys are going to be able to cope. They are going to launch the players they want in the melee, he will have to deal with it and with all of our new players, we have the chance to do that. It’s the same thing with our forwards, I’m going to try new things also, but we are also going to go with the guys who deserve it, such as Colin White, who has enjoyed a strong game, ” said Boucher, who also praised the work of DeMelo and Mikkel Boedker, another former Shark, during the inaugural game of the campaign.
A visit to Toronto, no matter the time, is an opportunity to gauge the intensity of the rivalry between the two rivals in ontario, including the four duels in five years in the playoffs between 2000 and 2004 are a distant memory for the supporters of the two clubs.
“We know that we are going to face an offensive team of high-level (Saturday), and defensively, we are going to improve. We do not hide it, said Boucher. Every game we play against them, either when it matches out of the contest or in the regular season, was a game hard fought. The two clubs are, and it is a great atmosphere for the fans. I don’t expect anything less tomorrow. “
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TKACHUK, A CASE IS ” HIGHLY DOUBTFUL “
The first choice Brady Tkachuk would like nothing better than to dip her feet in the Battle of Ontario for the first time Saturday night, especially as his friend Auston Matthews is one of the stars of the Maple Leafs.
But even if he skated alongside his regular partners, Mark Stone and Zack Smith at training on Friday, head coach Guy Boucher has hinted Friday that it remained a “highly questionable” for this game due to his pulled muscle in the groin.
As Max McCormick has appeared to aggravate the injury that had slowed at the beginning of training camp on Thursday against the Blackhawks, Boucher saying that he did not know if it will be “day-to-day or week-to-week,” the club may be careful with the groin of Tkachuk.
“Me, I don’t know, I felt good today, but I still have to go undergo treatments. I take it day by day. But it would not hurt ‘cool’ to start against the Leafs, it is one of the best rivalries in the NHL. I very much look forward, but we need to do for the best.” he said.
In case he cannot play, the club has recalled Paul Carey of Belleville.