Mar 6, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf (3) defends against Ottawa Senators right wing Daniel Alfredsson (11) as he tries to move the puck at the Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Senators 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Game #35 Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Ottawa Senators

The Senators wind up a successful 5 game home stand before heading out on the road with a newly rejuvenated Battle of Ontario.

 

19-12-4, 6th Eastern Conference

VS

19-9-6, 5th Eastern Conference

7:00 PM, Scotiabank Place

TV: CBC; Radio:  TEAM1200

 

HEAD TO HEAD

This is the fourth of five meetings scheduled this season.  It has been a series where home ice has meant a lot, and the Leafs hold a 2-1 edge.  Toronto shut out the Senators 3-0 in the first game without Erik Karlsson, while Ottawa evened the series at home on Colin Greening‘s last-minute goal.  The last meeting was the game that Dave Dziurzynski was knocked out by Frazer McLaren.  The Leafs went on to win 5-4.

 

LAST GAMES

Toronto scored 4 unanswered goals in the third period (including 2 empty netters) to beat the Hurricanes 6-3 on Thursday night, while Ben Bishop made 24 saves in leading the Senators to a 3-0 win over the Rangers.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Joffrey Lupul, TOR – Lupul was pointless in 3 games before breaking his arm against the Penguins on January 23rd.  In the 5 games he has played since his return (disrupted by his 2 game suspension), he has 7 goals and 2 assists for 9 points.  He has scored the game winner in each of the last 2 games.

 

Kyle Turris, OTT – Barring a trade in the next 5 days for a top line centre, and with the news that Jason Spezza will be out longer than expected, the ball will be in Turris’ hand to run with for the balance of the regular season and possibly into the playoffs.  Currently shares the team lead with 22 points, but needs to contribute more offensively down the stretch to make the desired impact on the Senators lineup.

 

TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR THE GAME

1.  Kassian – McLaren Round 1 - This is the first meeting of the teams since McLaren KO’d Dziurzynski, which was the play that Bryan Murray felt necessitated the acquisition of Matt Kassian.  How long will it take before Kassian and McLaren square off and how much will it matter to the psyche of the Senators if/when he wins the tilt.

2.  Is The Battle Really Back? – With both teams having solid seasons and being in the thick of the playoffs, this game is a measuring stick for both clubs. The teams sit just 2 points apart in the Eastern Conference and one more intense game like the last meeting at SBP could officialy put the Battle back into the Battle of Ontario.

3.  Net Effect – While Ottawa has difficult choices to make in a good way and won’t name a starter until Saturday afternoon (my money is on Bishop), the Leafs netminding duo has struggled and has the Roberto Luongo rumors have resurfaced around the league.  Expect James Reimer to get the Call.

 

PARTING SHOT

While I hypothesized that the #6 seed that the Leafs currently occupy might be the most advantageous first round position, the Sens aren’t about to tank anything to drop to that seed. If it happens, it happens but it won’t be by design.  The Senators depart on a tough 7 game road trip after this game, which begins in Boston on Tuesday and also ends in Boston on April 15th.  With a playoff sport firmly in their grasp, this will be a trip that will show how the Senators might handle road games in the post-season as they try to improve on their 6-7-3 record away from SBP.

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Tags: Frazer Mclaren Game Day Preview Joffrey Lupul Kyle Turris Matt Kassian Ottawa Senators Toronto Maple Leafs

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