Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares will get his first taste of game action since a horrific collision knocked him out of the playoffs when he and his teammates host the Montreal Canadiens in a pre-season contest Saturday.
You can watch the game on Sportsnet ONE and SN Now beginning at 7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT.
Tavares had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher after an open-ice collision with former Canadiens forward Corey Perry during Game 1 of last year's first round of the playoffs. He was immediately taken to hospital and diagnosed with a concussion and knee injury but thankfully avoid more serious damage to his neck.
"I'm excited," Tavares said after the morning skate. "Obviously there's probably a little bit more for me than some other years in exhibition just coming off the injury. So just turning that nervous energy or anxiety towards that just towards excitement. Just getting to play the game again, doing what I love, and all the hard work that you put in getting ready for the season and this is another step towards that."
Joining Tavares in the game Saturday will be other Maple Leafs regulars including William Nylander, Alexander Kerfoot, Jake Muzzin and T.J. Brodie. Some players looking to earn a spot in the NHL lineup playing Saturday include Nick Robertson, Josh Ho-Sang, Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren. Michael Hutchinson is expected to start in net for the Leafs with prospect Ian Scott serving as backup and possibly getting some time in the game, too.
Saturday will mark the Canadiens' first game since losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final in July. Now, after a transformative off-season, the team is back for another crack at ultimate glory.
Montreal will ice a roster featuring its top scoring line from the playoffs -- Tyler Toffoli, Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield -- while other regulars including Artturi Lehkonen, Jeff Petry and Alexander Romanov will dress too. Some notable Canadiens fighting for roster spots playing Saturday include Ryan Poehling, Laurent Dauphin, Alex Belzile and Xavier Ouellet. The Canadiens will start Cayden Primeau in net while Michael McNiven will serve as backup.