After a day break the Ottawa Senators will face a Toronto Maple Leafs team that has been on a bit of a roll lately. The Leafs have won 4 out of their last 5 games coming into this one and will keep trying to move up the standings. Both teams are tied with 16 points but they are both trending in very different directions. As for the Sens this will mark their first game without star defenceman Erik Karlsson.
7-5-2, 7th Eastern Conference, L10 (4-4-2)
8-6-0, 6th Eastern Conference, L10 (6-4-0)
TV: CBC Radio: Team 1200
HEAD TO HEAD
This will be the first installment of the “Battle of Ontario” this season. Last season the Sens and Leafs split the 6 round affair 3-3. I’m sure a lot of people were looking forward to this first matchup but a bit of the hype has since been taken away due to both teams injuries, although the Leafs seem to be getting better health wise as Ottawa seems to be trending downwards and beginning to look like the Binghamton Senators (without 2 of their best players in Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman). Nonetheless this should still be an interesting game on Hockey Night In Canada.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Nazem Kadri, TOR – Kadri has been a great player for the Leafs this year. He has great hands and can really fire the puck, not the type of player you generally like to give room to or he will burn you. He has started the year strong with 8-4-12 and a plus 4 rating.
Eric Gryba, OTT – Gryba won’t light up the lamp often but if he does it’s usually due to his big shot from the blue line. Look for him to stand out due to his big hits, he uses his size very well. He is a plus 28 and also leads the AHL in that category. Which is an impressive feat considering he missed some time at the beginning of the year and also has played with the B-Sens depleted lineup since the start of the NHL season.
TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR THE GAME
- New call-ups – The Sens recalled 3 players after the latest injuries and the forwards will be making their debut tonight as for Gryba we won’t know until this mornings practice. He will eventually make his debut soon and maybe tonight as coach Paul MacLean may want to give someone a rest. These players are Derek Grant, Eric Gryba and David Dziurzynski.
- Breakout – With a little more ice time, to almost everyone, will we see a breakout performance? The Sens will need this if they want to swim rather than sink this season. Expect players like Mika Zibanejad and Stephane Da Costa to receive more ice time along with veterans Chris Phillips and Sergei Gonchar.
- Erik Karlsson – This will mark the very first game we see the team without him. If the third period of the Pittsburgh Penguins game is any indication, this won’t be pretty. The Sens were sloppy with the breakout and had a very hard time trying to create anything offensively.
The Sens might have a hard time matching up tonight against a team that also has speed but is also a lot healthier. As stated above this will be Da costa and Zibanejad’s times to shine and the spotlight will definitely be on them. Which is a little unfortunate considering they don’t have that much experience. But if the Sens are to stay somewhat competitive Daniel Alfredsson and Kyle Turris will need someone else to score with, otherwise it will become hard to get any points in games this season.
I will tweet the lineup as it becomes available, follow me @lemayphil for updates!
Enjoy the game!