Maple Leafs v. Senators

The Ottawa Senators roll into Toronto on the back of a franchise-best 11 game winning streak. Their road record is not blowing up any skirts at 12-13-1 but they have won six in a row. How have they been doing it? Brian Elliott is beating the odds. It is interesting that this hot streak began just after Eli Wilson was canned as the senators' goalie coach. As I tweeted to Dany Heatley Speedwagon earlier this week about what Melvin Udall might say about Bryan Murray:

I think of an NHL General Manager and I take away reason and accountability.

After the coaching carousel and screwing the pooch with the Dany Heatley trade this summer Bryan Murray's lucky that his team has gone on this ridiculous run.

GAA SV% SV% Rank
Elliott (Jan. 14) 2.91 .893
45th
Elliott (Feb. 5) 2.43 .913
20th

Elliott (streak) 1.22 .960      N/A      

 

The Senators are missing Erik Karlsson who seemed to be putting together his game until an injury sidelined him until after the Olympics. As with Elliott, the recent 11 game win streak has helped hide just what a terrible season he was having up this point.

GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - Erik Karlsson 41 1 11 12 -4 14 0 0 0 0 67 1.5

Here is the Leafs' line-up for tonight.

Toronto Maple Leafs (via Jonas Siegel)

Forwards
Ponikarovsky Bozak Kessel
Mitchell Hanson Stempniak
Kulemin Wallin Sjostrom
Rosehill Primeau Orr

Defense
Beauchemin Phaneuf
Kaberle Gunnarsson
Schenn
Exelby/Finger

Goalie
Giguere

*Only an optional skate this morning so no word on whether Jeff Finger will get back in as the sixth defenseman.

The Kulemin-Wallin-Sjostrom line was very good last night as was the entire team really except for the last 3 minutes of the game. At this point, Jonas Gustavsson does not provide the same measure of control and comfort that Jean-Sebastien Giguere did on Tuesday night. Giguere will be getting the start and Gustavsson will get a front row seat to see the kind of approach that will make him the goalie I think he has the tools to become. Where Gustavsson attacks the play, Giguere lets it come to him and that is an important distinction.

It's a shame that this deal couldn't have been made in November (along with the Phaneuf trade) but you can see that the Leafs are building a good base going forward. The average age of the team is 26.1 years of age. They only have one forward over 30 and next year could have none older than 28. On the defence there is only one regular over 30 years of age (Finger is 30 but a stand-in) and next year there could be 0 as well. This team will probably get younger as well next year when a player like Viktor Stalberg becomes a regular and Gunnarsson plays a full season in the NHL. There will be growing pains. Hopefully next year there are fewer.

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