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Maple Leafs game preview: The final Battle of Ontario is tonight

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Connor Carrick is in and Roman Polak is out tonight against the Ottawa Senators.

Toronto Maple Leafs Vs Ottawa Senators Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Maple Leafs vs. Senators: Game # 57

Time: 7:00PM EDT

Location: Air Canada Centre, Toronto

Broadcast/Streaming: Sportsnet (no blackouts)

Opponent SBNation Site: Silver Seven Sens

Tonight is the last of the Battle of Ontario series in the 2017-18 season. With the Senators sitting 13 points out of the playoff Wild Card slot there’s only now a tiny mathematical possibility they will advance. It looks like Eugene Melnyk is making some changes to the front office in anticipation of a long summer.

Signing Dorion to an extension now is interesting. The floundering team is heading toward a critical juncture with star defenceman Karlsson due for a contract renewal by the end of next season. It is up in the air if he will actually stay or be traded at the deadline later this month.

Various reports say Mike Babcock has substituted Carrick in for Polak tonight. Josh Leivo will continue to enjoy the amenities of the press box.

Toronto Maple Leafs (from morning skate)

Forward Lines

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Patrick Marleau - Nazem Kadri - Mitch Marner
James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Connor Brown
Leo Komarov - Dominic Moore - Kasperi Kapanen

Not Playing: Josh Leivo, Matt Martin

Defence Pairings

Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner - Nikita Zaitsev
Travis Dermott - Connor Carrick

Not Playing: Roman Polak

Goaltenders

Starting: Frederik Andersen
Backup: Curtis McElhinney

Ottawa Senators (from recent game with Stone and Brassard added)

Forward Lines

Mike Hoffman - Matt Duchene - Colin White
Ryan Dzingel - Derick Brassard - Mark Stone
Zack Smith - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Tom Pyatt
Magnus Paajarvi - Chris DiDomenico

Defence Pairings

Johnny Oduya - Erik Karlsson
Thomas Chabot - Cody Ceci
Dion Phaneuf - Mark Borowiecki - Fredrik Claesson

Goaltenders

Starting: Craig Anderson
Backup: Mike Condon

Filling out the exact lines for the Senators is a bit of challenge as coach Guy Boucher has decided to play games with eleven forwards and seven defenceman recently, plus there are two players returning from injury; Brassard and Stone.

You may recall that Stone’s injury actually happened the last time the Senators played the Leafs on January 20. As Katya put it, “it’s one of those horrible slide knee-first into the boards. Yuck. Hate that sort of thing. He can sort of walk down the tunnel, so maybe he’s okay.” It turns out he wasn’t, and missed three weeks.

That game was also where the Leafs were down 3-1 at the end of the second period and made the big comeback, scoring three goals in the third period to win it 4-3. Do you remember who scored the game winning goal? It was Carrick! Interesting to see he’s back in tonight against the Senators again.

But, if you really want to see the highlight of that game it was the tying goal by Marner.

We know one Senator who won’t be playing is Alexandre Burrows and that is great because no one wants him around. He is on the second game of his ten game suspension tonight.

The Senators are worn down and beaten up, sitting second to last in the Eastern Conference, ahead of only Buffalo. This should be an easy win right? But it’s these games that are always the most dangerous.

So it’s Andersen vs. Anderson on Hockey Night in Canada. Get ready!