Toronto Maple Leafs @ Ottawa Senators
07:00 PM at Canadian Tire Centre
Watch on: CBC, SNO, SNW, SNP
The Leafs last game was at home on March 17 against the Carolina Hurricanes, which Toronto won by a score of 5-2. The Leafs have a record of 41-18-9 so far.
The Ottawa Senators last played at home on March 16 against the Colorado Avalanche. The Senators lost by a score of 5-4, and their current league record is 33-31-4.
The Sens have lost four in a row, but even before that, they’d hit the skids enough that any pretence of a drive to a playoff spot is too fake to take seriously. This season hasn’t shown them to be in range of the bottom of the eight best teams in the east, however. They aren’t scraping the bottom of the league anymore.
They’ve always been a tough out for the Leafs, and now they’re worse because they are genuinely better. We get to see how Jakob Chychrun fits in. Micah McCurdy noted this on Twitter:
So far, D.J. Smith is not using Chychrun when a goal against hurts them. Something funny, is that if you look at this chart for the Washington Capitals, you will see Erik Gustafsson in that same spot. The Leafs have no one they use that carefully. Even Conor Timmins gets trusted a little more.
Bruce Garrioch via Daily Faceoff from their last game.
Brady Tkachuk - Tim Stützle - Drake Batherson
Alex DeBrincat - Ridly Greig - Claude Giroux
Derick Brassard - Shane Pinto - Patrick Brown
Julien Gauthier - Dylan Gambrell - Austin Watson
Jakob Chychrun - Travis Hamonic
Jake Sanderson - Artem Zub
Thomas Chabot - Erik Brannstrom
Noel Acciari was hurt when Jesse Puljujarvi essentially punched him in the jaw by accident last night. No penalty was called on the play. He left the game, and will not play tonight.
The Leafs started with 11 forwards last night, so they need to add someone and the option to recall players is open, since the Marlies are at home right now, and recall they did:
The Leafs sent Alex Steeves back to the Marlies, so McMann seems likely to draw in on the fourth line with Wayne Simmonds remaining the extra.
UPDATE: Simmonds and Justin Holl are in and we’re back to 12F/6D.
Maple Leafs going with 12/6. Mark Giordano, the only Leafs D to play every game, gets a rest. Erik Gustafsson also sits with Justin Holl drawing back in. Wayne Simmonds plays his first hockey game since Feb. 1.— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) March 18, 2023
As for Woll, he could be the back up, or the harbinger of something scary like an injury to one of the other goalies. Expect the defence configuration to change as well.
We’ll update this as the day develops, but the lines below are the survivors of last night.
(our best guess)
Calle Järnkrok - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Michael Bunting - John Tavares - William Nylander
Alex Kerfoot - Sam Lafferty - David Kämpf
Zach Aston-Reese - Bobby McMann - Wayne Simmonds
Morgan Rielly - TJ Brodie
Jake McCabe - Luke Schenn
Justin Holl - Timothy Liljegren
Matt Murray - confirmed starter
The Leafs have two jobs in every game, with less than 15 games left: focus on their puck control and possession and don’t get hurt.
They did a good job on thing one last night against the team Sheldon Keefe rightly called the toughest team in the league to exit the zone against. The numbers favoured the Hurricanes, but then, they generally do. Now the Leafs need to do it again against a team playing a totally different, yet fairly effective style.
Go Leafs Go!