So looking forward to tonight's resumption of the battle of Ontario, I thought I'd provide the viewing public with a few statistical areas to keep an eye on in case the game doesn't keep them interested enough. I'm putting the info in order from worrisome to good, so don't be discouraged by the early points.
Ottawa-Toronto is still young in terms of the rivalry stage so let's see what we've got from previous seasons:
1. Pascal Leclaire went 2-0-1 against the Leafs last year though he had mop up duty in the 5-0 shutout posted by Giguere.
2. Alex Kovalev likes scoring against the Leafs - to the tune of 26 goals and 68 points in 63 career games. He also has a +14 rating. Luckily last year he only posted 3 assists and no goals in 6 games, which was a nice drop from the 3 goal, 9 point season he had in 6 games with the Habs in the previous season.
3. Daniel Alfredsson is almost as dangerous as Kovalev with 29 goals and 63 points in 66 career games against the Leafs. Luckily in the past two years he has 4 goals and 2 assists for only 6 points in 11 games, so that rate of production has dropped off a tad.
4. Sergei Gonchar is another Leaf destroyer with 13 goals and 45 points in 41 career games against Toronto. 29 of those points have come on the PP and much of the damage is a result of his bomb from the point. He had 3 goals and 6 points in only 3 games against Toronto last year so they need to contain him to compete. Giguere had some success in stopping Gonchar while with Anaheim though, so that's something to give hope.
5. Jason Spezza likes beating up on the Leafs also, with 10 goals and 46 points in 41 career games against the Leafs. Luckily for Toronto fans, he has a groin problem and may not play tonight.
6. So far Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin have combined for 0 shots on goal. Neither one has been particularly great against Ottawa in their career. Grabovski has 3 goals and 6 points in 14 career games, while Kulemin has 1 goal and 2 points in 11 career games.
7. Tomas Kaberle's offensive game has been surprisingly weak over his career against Ottawa. He only has 1 career goal vs. the Senators, and only 26 points in 62 career games. He also looks bad in his own end with a -6 rating. This might have something to do with why he's lost the Alternate Captaincy.
8. Kris Versteeg has only played Ottawa twice in his entire career, and hasn't fired a shot on goal. This is uncharted territory, but here's hoping he gets off on the right foot. In the pre-season he only played in one of the three games against the Senators, and he was -1, with 3 shots on goal and zero points. Lots of room for improvement.
NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS
8. The Sens kids have sucked against the Leafs so far. Milan Michalek has 1 goal and 2 points in 8 career games against Toronto. Erik Karlsson has 0 points and a -3 rating in his first 4 games against Toronto. Peter Regin has 0 points and a -1 rating in 5 games against the Leafs. Sure Nick Foligno looked good in the pre-season, but so far in his career he has 1 goal, 2 points, and a -2 rating in 15 games against Toronto. Chris Campoli mainly played the Leafs when he was with the Isles, but his 7 assists in 18 games against Toronto doesn't really make up for that -9 rating he's posted.
9. J.S. Giguere only faced the Senators once last season and posted a shutout in the aforementioned 5-0 victory. He also has a 5-2 career record against the Senators with a 1.96 GAA and .931 SV%. Jonas Gustavsson's only loss to the Sens came in the opening game he played against them, and he only gave up 2 goals in the loss. Either way the Leafs should be confident their goaltending can handle the Senators.
10. Clarke MacArthur looked good on opening night and he's scored 4 career goals in 16 games against the Senators (He only had 1 goal in 20 games against the Leafs so it's probably for the best that he plays FOR the Leafs now).
11. Yes Dion Phaneuf may only have 1 career point in 7 games against Ottawa, but he's also a +7 in those games.
12. Luke Schenn already likes playing the Sens. He's already posted 2 goals and 4 points along with a +7 rating against the Senators in only 10 games. His 21 PIMs with Ottawa is also the most he's got against any NHL franchise.
13. Colton Orr loves to beat up the likes of Matt Carkner. Fist meet Face.... go.
14. Tyler Bozak is already better than a point per game player for his career against the Senators, posting a goal and 3 assists for 4 points in 3 games last year. He also has a +3 rating, 4 hits and 3 blocked shots. He can lead from the front in this one.
15. Colby Armstrong also likes to destroy Senators. He has 8 goals and 17 points in 19 career games vs. Ottawa. He also has a +8 rating and a 22.2% shooting percentage against them for his career. Weird but true.
16. Phil Kessel is a Sens Killer. 18 points in 25 career games, including 13 goals, 2 of which came on the power play, and 4 of which were game winners. He also has a +8 rating against the Senators, to go along with a high of 12 penalty minutes. Phil likes to light em up.