When it comes to the regular season, the Leafs have it all. They’ve clinched a playoff spot and the division, and these two remaining games are basically meaningless in the grand scheme of things now that it’s confirmed the Habs are the enemy in the first round. However, there are still some things to iron out, and one of those things is Frederik Andersen, who is getting his first NHL start on March 19th.
The Calgary Flames walked away with the win that night as Freddie allowed 4 goals on 14 shots bringing his season save percentage to .897. That put a pause on his season due to some kind of lower-body injury making way for the rise of Jack Campbell and the accolades he’s stacked up since.
This game may be unfair to Freddie, but it’s still important. This is where you find out where he’s at in every aspect of the position and whether Sheldon Keefe feels he can play him in a playoff game when the time comes or if he runs with Campbell through-and-through. Andersen’s one-and-a-half-game stint with the Marlies was his first game in months but didn’t do too much in the perceptive confidence department. Tonight’s game can fix that.
Aside from the Andersen angle, the Leafs are coming off back-to-back wins against the Habs, which feels great considering the next set of challenges. The goal for tonight should be simple: play how you’ve played and don’t do anything reckless.
Game 55: Toronto Maple Leafs vs Ottawa Senators
Date: Wednesday, May 12th, 2021
Time: 8:00 PM EST
Place: Canadian Tire Centre
Channel: Sportsnet, TVAS2
(ugh 8:00 PM...)
Toronto Maple Leafs
Alex Galchenyuk - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Nick Foligno - John Tavares - William Nylander
Pierre Engvall - Alex Kerfoot - Ilya Mikheyev
Joe Thornton - Jason Spezza - Wayne Simmonds
Morgan Rielly - T.J. Brodie
Jake Muzzin - Justin Holl
Ben Hutton - Travis Dermott
Keefe was experimenting with some playoff lines in yesterday’s practice that were far different from those we are most likely to see tonight. Nick Foligno is confirmed to return to the lineup and if the plan is to play him on the second line during the playoffs, there’s no better time than now to try it out.
#Leafs lines at practice:— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) May 11, 2021
Extras: Galchenyuk, Engvall
Although Riley Nash and Zach Hyman were all in regular practice sweaters, Keefe stated it didn’t confirm their participation in the season's final two games. Additionally, and this comes via Capfriendly, for the Leafs to activate Andersen off of LTIR, not only did Rasmus Sandin have to go to the taxi squad, but Liljegren, Noesen and Hutchinson were sent to the Marlies, Hyman had to be placed on retroactive LTIR.
The salary cap is beautiful, isn’t it?
The Senators have been on the winning side of the puck for the last little while, taking 9 of 13. It makes you wonder whether they could’ve passed the Habs if there were more games in the schedule. On the other hand, they’re coming off a fairly lopsided match against the Calgary Flames, scoring only one goal to their six.
If you’re D.J. Smith, it’s all about building for the future, and there is a growing core that has gelled well together this season. And Victor Mete is on the top pair!
Brady Tkachuk - Josh Norris - Drake Batherson
Tim Stützle - Shane Pinto - Connor Brown
Nick Paul - Artem Anisimov - Evgenii Dadonov
Alex Formenton - Logan Brown - Parker Kelly
Victor Mete - Nikita Zaitsev
Erik Brannstrom - Artem Zub
Olle Alsing - Jacob Bernard-Docker
(lines and pairings per TSN 1200)
The Senators always play the Leafs like its Game 7 Double OT of the Stanley Cup Final, so by no means will this be easy even though it “should” be. That said, the last time these two teams met, 13 goals were scored in total, including the Auston Matthews hat-trick, which doesn’t really scream “defence playoff hockey.”
AUSTON MATTHEWS HATTY— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) April 11, 2021
334TH HAT-TRICK IN LEAFS HISTORY! pic.twitter.com/ejXKau2bOC
The Leafs will skate into that game trying to leave as healthy as possible while the Sens will try to send a message for next season.
One thing that has been reassuring about the Leafs as of late is they’re finding ways to win despite having a poor start to the game. That will be important for Andersen, who may need some extra goal support if he can’t settle in as quickly as he’d like. And if he gets completely shelled, I’m sure we’ll all handle it calmly and in an appropriate matter.