Toronto Maple Leafs @ Ottawa Senators: game #72
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: The Leafs Other Home Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: CBC Hockey Night in Canada
Opponent SBNation Site: Silver Seven Sens

After a wild comeback win last night against a Flyers team that desperately needed the points for the playoff race, tonight the Leafs face a team in a much different situation. The only race the Senators are a part of now is to get the first selection in the next NHL Draft...or they would be, except they traded their first to Colorado in the Matt Duchene deal. They sit in last place in the league, eliminated form the playoffs quite some time ago.

That doesn’t mean they won’t try to be spoilers tonight. You just know the bitterness is strong in those players over their situation. The Leafs really want to pick up the points tonight to keep alive their chance of passing the Bruins and getting home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Senators would love a sweeping defeat of a tired team in front of the 10,000 Leafs fans and 1,000 Senators fans in the building.

The Bruins have worked hard to help the Leafs with catching up by losing their last three games. A win tonight is critical for the Leafs to passing them, and staying ahead of them. By the way, the Bruins are facing the Blue Jackets tonight, which would be a great game to check in on during the intermissions.

Maple Leafs Lines

Lines based on yesterday’s game. Mark Masters reported that Igor Ozhiganov and Nic Petan were the only two out for the optional morning skate so it is expected they will be scratched again tonight.

Forward Lines

Zach Hyman - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Andreas Johnsson - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Patrick Marleau - Nazem Kadri - Connor Brown
Tyler Ennis - Frederik Gauthier - Trevor Moore

Defence Pairings

Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Muzzin - Nikita Zaitsev
Martin Marincin - Justin Holl


Garret Sparks - starter
Frederik Andersen

Ottawa Senators Lines

Lines are based on their last game Thursday, updated with Colin White out for an injury as reported by Bruce Garrioch. Erik Brannstrom and Max Veronneau made their NHL debut on Thursday. Brannstrom was selected 15th overall at the 2017 draft by the Golden Knights. The Senators acquired him at the deadline when they traded Mark Stone. Max Veronneau was undrafted and just finished his last year at Princeton. He’s from Ottawa, so naturally the Senators signed him up.

Forward Lines

Brady Tkachuk - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Max Veronneau
Rudolfs Balcers - Chris Tierney - Magnus Paajarvi
Zack Smith - Oscar Lindberg - Bobby Ryan
Anthony Duclair - Brian Gibbons - Mikkel Boedker

Defence Pairings

Ben Harpur - Dylan Demelo
Christian Wolanin - Cody Ceci
Mark Borowiecki - Christian Jaros

Goaltenders (starter not yet confirmed)

Anders Nilsson
Craig Anderson

There’s not much more to write about this game. The Senators are terrible. You don’t need charts or graphs or fancy statistics to break that down for you. They’ve managed only 24 wins in 71 games this season and they traded away whatever high-intensity talent they had left when they shoveled off Mark Stone and Matt Duchene at the deadline. Maybe Brannstrom will pan out in the future, but I am not expecting much from even a top prospect who is still only 19 years-old. In any case, he was sent back to Belleville and isn’t playing tonight.

The Leafs are the Leafs, of course, and lately that means you have to prepare for a possible tire fire when you turn on the TV. They’ve allowed 12 goals against in their past two games. Again, you don’t need fancy hockey statistics to know that is not a clear path to winning. The team is going to be tired, but Sparks has at least had some time in net this week already, and they will have a home crowd advantage tonight.

Mike Babcock will address the press at 4:45 p.m. If there are any surprises like a miraculous recovery for Kasperi Kapanen we will update this post, but I am not expecting any.