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Leafs vs Senators preview: Again.

The Leafs play the Senators for the third time in sixteen days, with playoff and draft positioning hanging in the balance.

Hey, Eric. Interested in a good spaghetti casserole recipe?
Hey, Eric. Interested in a good spaghetti casserole recipe?
Dave Sandford/Getty Images

Leafs vs. Senators

7:30PM on CityTV (yes, really, CityTV)

For some odd reason, probably involving Eugene Melnyk pinching his last few pennies, the Maple Leafs and the Senators were scheduled to play three of their five games over a two week period at the end of the season. Tonight is the last of those games, and it's an important one for both teams.

One team desperately needs to win, while the other's fans may prefer losing.

Last night, the Oilers lost in regulation, and the Leafs lost in overtime, picking up a single point. That one point locked the Leafs out of the third pick at the draft. The Oilers are now tanking for the second or third pick, as it is no longer possible for the Sabres to end up with more points. However, the Sabres don't yet have a lock on the first pick. They could still pass the Coyotes and windup with the second. All these teams, including the Leafs have three games remaining.

The Hurricanes are four points ahead of the Leafs, but have four remaining games. The odds are rapidly turning to the Leafs ending up with the fourth pick. A win tonight will drop the chances of getting the fourth pick slightly, but a loss tonight would make the fourth pick an almost certainty. One quirk is that despite being four points behind the Hurricanes in the standings, the Leafs have one more ROW than the Hurricanes already, so a tie in points at the end of the season would probably bump the Leafs back to the fifth pick.

As a reminder, per the new draft lottery rules, the fourth pick has a 9.5% chance of being bumped up to first, while, the fifth pick has an 8.5% chance.

On the other side tonight, the Senators are desperate to win. Now sitting at 92 points, with four games left, they are three points back of the Bruins, Penguins, and Red Wings, who are all tied at 95 points. A loss to the Leafs today would be a serious blow to their playoff chances. The Senators would then have to win two of their last three games in regulation, and one of those other three teams to win none, just to move into the last wild card slot. There are other mathematical possibilities to get in, but it gets really messy if there winds up to be a tie in points as they will likely end up with a tie in ROW too. At that point we get into obscure tie breakers like "the greater number of points earned in games between the tied clubs," and beyond that "the greater differential between goals for and against for the entire regular season."

How should Leaf fans want all this to play out? Well, it's up to your individual tastes.

Pittsburgh is playing Philadelphia as I write this. The Flyers are up 2-1 at the end of the second. The Penguins haven't beaten the Flyers in more than 500 days. It would certainly create some hilarious off-season drama if Crosby and the Penguins missed the playoffs. UPDATE: Flyers won 4-1.

The Senators missing the playoffs would be satisfying, as who wants to hear about them any more this year? However do you want them to even have that 1% chance at McDavid? What if they secured the last playoff slot and wound up facing the Habs in the first round? Sure one of them would win, but one would be out right away too, and it would be kind of funny if it was the Habs.

And what about Boston? Do you want them to be the team on just on the outside of the playoffs, because fuck the Bruins?

Whatever happens, this week's games will sort it out.

James Reimer put up an all star performance again last night, raising his season sv% 4 basis points to .909%. Jonathan Bernier is sitting at .911%. It is still possible Bernier could finish this season with a lower sv% than Reimer. Reimer is on contract through the end of next season, but Benier's RFA contract expires in a few weeks. It would be interesting to see what pay and term he is offered, especially if his sv% drops below Reimer's. One party declaring for salary arbitration is a likely outcome; but a trade is possible too, if you believe the rumblings from front office as delivered by the media. Could we even see an offer sheet? Probably not, but it would be fun times.

The Senators are also coming off a back-to-back. Last night they narrowly beat the Capitals in OT. We'll see if betting again on Hammond pays off.