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Leafs at Sens Preview: To Ottawa With Bad Intentions

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Toronto travels to its backup home arena for its first game of the year against the Sens.

NHL: Preseason-Ottawa Senators at Toronto Maple Leafs Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Ottawa Senators: Game #8

Location: Canadian Tire Fire Centre

Broadcast/Streaming: CBC

Opponent SBNation Site: Silver Seven Sens

Our fanbase is bigger than your fanbase.

This week, as with all weeks in the year, Ottawa Senators fans were touchy about being in the same province with a more popular team.

I dunno what they’re whining about, TSN has given the same coverage to all of Ottawa’s 40-goal rookies.

So as you might guess, it’s time for us to make our first visit to our little brother franchise in the nation’s capital. Ottawa is currently at Bettman .500 (3-1-3), with nine points in the bag, good for third in the Atlantic. Their underlying numbers are still grotesque, but considering they were without their best player to start the year, they deserve some credit for surviving.

The Sens aren’t what anyone would call deep, but they do have multiple excellent players; newly returned star defender Erik Karlsson, takeaway king Mark Stone, and late-blooming sniper Mark Hoffman are probably their best three. Throw that in front of solid goaltending from Craig Anderson, and despite shallowness at every skater position, you have a team. Maybe not a good one, but a team nonetheless.

Oh, but most of all, there’s The System, which is referred to in vaguely cult-like tones by believers. The System, coached by Guy Boucher and detailed here by the Athletic’s Justin Bourne, is a particularly conservative strategy, intended to hopefully hold the zone and limit odd-man rushes against. How effective this is is another question, but it does mean the Leafs may have to work harder for rush chances than they’re used to.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forward Lines

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Connor Brown

Patrick Marleau - Nazem Kadri - Leo Komarov

Matt Martin - Dominic Moore - Mitch Marner

Defence Pairings

Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey

Jake Gardiner - Nikita Zaitsev

Andreas Borgman - Connor Carrick

Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

Andreas Borgman seems to be taking the lead in the battle for the third-pair LD slot, and presumably Dominic Moore will cycle back in on the 4C carousel. Mitch Marner’s character-building stint on the fourth line seems to be ongoing.

The Sens lines, care of Daily Faceoff:

Ottawa Senators

Forward Lines

Bobby Ryan - Derick Brassard - Mark Stone

Ryan Dzingel - Kyle Turris - Alexandre Burrows

Mike Hoffman - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Tom Pyatt

Nate Thompson - Logan Brown - Chris DiDomenico

Defence Pairings

Dion Phaneuf - Erik Karlsson

Johnny Oduya - Cody Ceci

Frederick Claesson - Chris Wideman

Goaltenders

Craig Anderson

Mike Condon

That bottom nine. Oof. Hoffman and Turris are good and then eek. Lots of 30-point dudes, I guess. Maybe with The System they’re good defensively?

Oh. Anyway, the point is that the Sens have enough talent to win games in which they’re the underdog; Karlsson by himself almost guarantees that. Toronto is the more talented team and it isn’t really all that close, but if the Leafs make mistakes the Sens are going to pounce. Ottawa also always plays the Leafs tough, probably because mean-spirited Toronto bloggers keep making fun of them.

Tbh, I like making fun of the Sens, so Leafs, give me more opportunities to do that. Go Leafs Go.