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Game Preview: Maple Leafs vs Ottawa Senators

The Senators look forward to having a crowd to watch them play.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Toronto Maple Leafs Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Ottawa Senators
7:00PM - Scotiabank Arena
TV: CBC (Hockey Night in Canada), Sportsnet
Opponent’s site: Silver Seven Sens

The Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Ottawa Senators tonight for the first time since the season’s opening night, a 5-3 win for the Leafs. The backend of the year is overall really heavily stacked with divisional rivals – the Bruins, Sabres and Red Wings are the only teams we’ve played three times, and there are three teams (the Panthers, Lightning, and Senators) that the Leafs have only played once in the first four months of the season. Scheduling! This makes an argument for the Leafs having a lot of control over their playoff chances, which for sure makes me absolutely zero percent nervous, as the tail end of the Babcock era had no impact on my faith in the team whatsoever!

Anyways. Let’s find out what the Senators have been up to in the four months since we played them last!

The exciting news for Ottawa fans is that they are ahead of the last-place Detroit Red Wings. The less exciting news is that it is only by six wins, though their nine overtime loses are helping bolster their point total to be well above them in the standings. In terms of play, they are letting in more shots per game at a rate only slightly higher than the Leafs, which does raise the possibility of this being another fun game with 10+ goals split between both teams. On the other hand, they are 24th in the league for shots for, so maybe not.

Playing the Senators also means playing a lot of former Leafs, so look forward to revisiting fond memories of watching Nikita Zaitsev icing the puck on endless repeat, or Ron Hainsey just doing his best.

The Leafs have just found themselves back in the playoff race, currently sitting just outside of the third spot in the Atlantic, behind Florida. The Panthers have two games in hand and one regulation win over us, so a win tonight, as with most nights, would be pretty nice. We’re down to the last couple of months of hockey, and while we’re back to being projected to make the playoffs at this point (as of this morning, Dom Luszczyszyn’s model has us at 74%), and still performing well under Keefe, despite a few stumbles (18-7-3, for those keeping track), I’m still not gonna quite breathe easily until that percentage is at 100%.

Speaking of improving percentages, Hutchinson is in net tonight! He’s obviously been playing better under Keefe (he’s won three games now!) and the Senators are quite un-good, so that seems like a reasonable choice. And as a bonus to fans, it does get rid of the Andersen-Anderson confusion. Still no word on whether or not Dermott will be feeling up to playing, so Marincin may or may not be in.

Maple Leafs Lineups

Based on their lines at practice

Forwards

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Alexander Kerfoot - John Tavares - William Nylander
Andreas Johnsson - Pierre Engvall - Kasperi Kapanen
Trevor Moore - Frederik Gauthier - Jason Spezza

Defense

Jake Muzzin - Justin Holl
Rasmus Sandin - Cody Ceci
Travis Dermott/Martin Marincin - Tyson Barrie

Goalies

Frederik Andersen
Michael Hutchinson

Senators Lineups

Via the Daily Faceoff

Forwards

Brady Tkachuk - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Connor Brown
Vladislav Namestnikov - Chris Tierney - Anthony Duclair
Tyler Ennis - Colin White - Drake Batherson
Filip Chlapik - Artem Anisimov - Scott Sabourin

Defense

Thomas Chabot - Ron Hainsey
Mike Reilly - Dylan DeMelo
Mark Borowiecki - Nikita Zaitsev

Goalies

Craig Anderson
Marcus Hogberg