The first installment of the Battle of Ontario takes place at the Air Canada Centre as the Ottawa Senators take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Saturday, Feb 16, 2013, 7:00 PM EST
Air Canada Centre
Broadcast: Hockey Night In Canada
Honouring: The 1963 Toronto Maple Leafs
Expected: More crying from Eugene Melnyk
This hasn't been a good week for the Ottawa Senators. First, Erik Karlsson was injured in a freak accident with Matt Cooke that could have been easily prevented with a simple piece of equipment. Then their GM embarrassed himselfby accusing Matt Cooke of deliberately cutting Karlsson's Achilles in the finest tradition of Damien Cox: "Oh well, with Matt Cooke you gotta ask the question..." Then, Eugene Melnyk doubled down on the crazy while also ignoring the history of his fan favourite Chris Neil. Of course, maybe he knows that he's wrong and will talk it back later once the league fines him.
The bottom line is that the Senators are reeling and the Leafs need to take advantage. Right now, both teams are tied in the standings with the Leafs holding the tie break based on regulation and overtime wins. The five games against Ottawa will play a huge role in deciding which of these two teams will make the playoffs (if either of them do) and the Leafs have three at home which is a best case scenario. Senators fans aren't too bullish about their chances and to be frank, I'm not sold on the Leafs as they stand right now. The advantage the Leafs have is obviously that they'll get Joffrey Lupul back soon as well as James Reimer while Karlsson is out for the year and Spezza is as close to that as it comes.
See the Senators' preview here. The Ottawa Citizen runs a prediction panel before every game and the predictions run from hoping Craig Anderson can steal the game and assuming that an impending loss will be one more insult piled on in a brutal week.
Things To Keep An Eye On
- Who do the Senators match against the Kessel line? Last year he had 11 points in 6 games against them.
- Who do the Leafs match the Grabovski line against? The Alfredsson line I guess?
- Will Chris Neil fight Mike Brown or one of the blue bombers? Or more likely does he try to fight Grabovski again?
- Can the Leafs score on Anderson? Other than the first game of the year, the Leafs struggled to score on him in the other four games.
Expected Lineups and Starters
Toronto Maple Leafs
Ben Scrivens (starter)
Craig Anderson (starter)