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Game Preview: Ottawa Senators @ Toronto Maple Leafs

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A ‘Battle of Ontario’ game that actually matters?

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Toronto Maple Leafs John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Gather round young Leafs fans and let me tell you a tale. It’s the story of the Maple Leafs making the playoffs....quiet down back there! It happened!

From 2000 until 2004 the Maple met four of the five years in the playoffs. There was anger in Daniel Alfredsson trying to murder Darcy Tucker. There was Darcy Tucker trying to leap into the Senators bench and fight the entire team. There was one of the greatest moments in modern Maple Leafs history: PING!

It was a glorious time. Hard fought rivalry playoff battles. When Senators fans could hate us for beating them in the playoffs, instead of being a stable franchise with ownership who isn’t concerned about ‘cost per point’ and setting up their own CSI investigations, and a fanbase of more than 9,000.

Oh, and the Maple Leafs beat the Senators EVERY TIME. Enjoy the summary of these wonderful playoff battles.

Post lockout, the passion hasn’t been there. The Maple Leafs have been bad, and without the Leafs fighting them, the Senators are mostly irrelevant to the rest of the hockey world.

Their biggest achievement was scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal, and they didn’t even win the Stanley Cup!

So what am I getting at with all of these glorious memories?

Tonight is the last time the Maple Leafs and Senators play each other in the regular season. This is a playoff game between the two of sorts. The Senators have one game in hand on the Maple Leafs and are three points ahead of them in the Atlantic Division standings - Ottawa is 2nd in the division while Toronto is holding down the second Eastern wild card spot.

A regulation win pulls them within one point of each other, and has the chances of moving the Maple Leafs into the third Atlantic Division spot, as long as the Boston Bruins don’t win tonight.

We have an opportunity for the Maple Leafs to sit next to the Senators in the standings, and wouldn’t that be the way to kick off the new era of Maple Leafs hockey? By entering the playoffs against the team that we can’t lose to.

Wonderful.

Ottawa Senators @ Toronto Maple Leafs
7:00PM - Air Canada Centre
TV: CBC / GCL
Radio: TSN1050 / Sportsnet590
SBN: Silver Seven Sens

Past Five Ottawa

The Senators are doing as well as the Maple Leafs are lately. They’ve shutout the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils 3-0 each, beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 but also lost to the lowly Sabres 3-2 and were blown out by the Blues 6-0.

The Senators have one day less of rest than the Maple Leafs, as they last played on Thursday. They’re having pretty good injury luck, out of the regulars, it’s jsut Mark Methot listed as day to day with illness.

Past Five Toronto

The Maple Leafs are having issues realizing there’s a first period. Also with holding leads. Damn millennials.

The Leafs have lost to the Blues in overtime, the Sabres 3-1, and the Blue Jackets 5-2. They’ve destroyed the Islanders 7-1 and beat the Stars 3-1.

They’ve lost Mitch Marner for the weekend thanks to the boards in Columbus, he may have a shoulder injury, but the team says he should be good for Tuesday against the Rangers.

Lines:

Ottawa
Ryan Dzingel - Derick Brassard - Mark Stone
Mike Hoffman - Kyle Turris - Zack Smith
Tom Pyatt - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Bobby Ryan
Chris Kelly - Curtis Lazar - Tommy Wingels

Fredrik Claesson - Erik Karlsson
Dion Phaneuf - Cody Ceci
Mark Borowiecki - Chris Wideman

Craig Anderson
Mike Condon

Toronto:

Leo Komarov - Nazem Kadri - Josh Leivo
James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Connor Brown
Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Matt Martin - Ben Smith - Nikita Soshnikov

Morgan Rielly - Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner - Connor Carrick
Matt Hunwick - Roman Polak

Frederik Andersen
Curtis McElhinney

Connor Brown jumps up to take Mitch Marner’s place tonight. It’s a big opportunity so hopefully he makes the step up.