Ottawa Senators @ Toronto Maple Leafs
07:00 PM at Scotiabank Arena
Watch on: TVAS, SN

The Ottawa Senators last played at home on December 23 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Senators won by a score of 5-4 in OT, and their current league record is 12-17-0 for a 0.414 Points %.

The Leafs last game was away on December 23 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, which Toronto won by a score of 4-1 in regulation. The Leafs have a record of 17-8-6 for a 0.645 Points %.

Today is the end of the Christmas Break, and the rules state that players can't be compelled to come to the practice facility, travel or practice until today. You may recall the Leafs were fined for a clever scheme where they tried to fly to St. Louis the night before one year. What that means is that the teams will assemble today and lines may be subject to change.


This is only the third of four games this season vs Ottawa, so why does it feel like the Leafs are always playing the Sens except when they play the Blue Jackets? Likely because the Leafs have similar troubles against the two cellar dwellers. I've said before why I think "playing down to their opponents" is a bit of reductive sloganeering. Because it is.

If you watched the WJC on Boxing Day, you may have heard what came across as apologetic commentary about why Macklin Celebrini is fun, but not a dominating player. He is absolutely fun and has a lot of skill, and as the expected first overall pick, he's a lot less likely to inspire intentional, hardcore tanking than Connor Bedard did. Neither the Senators (last in the Atlantic) nor the Blue Jackets (last in the Metro) are trying to be bad. Both teams thought they were building up to the lower end of the playoff team group this season, and they've been hampered by injuries, coaching changes and bad player signings.

The Sens aren't terrible. They have allowed fewer goals against than the Leafs, but they score too infrequently to be a viable team. The Leafs will have trouble generating offence against them, not because of some psychological flaw that manifests simultaneously in every player so they play differently depending on their "vibes" about a team, but because the Senators are decently capable of disrupting the offensive cycles the Leafs rely on. They have to! It's about all they've got. They have some flashes of quality offence of their own, but can't sustain it.

Thomas Chabot is still out, but some changes in the forward lines are coming soon in order for them to sign Shane Pinto when his suspension is up. But for tonight, something like their last lineup is likely.


Last Game (12/23) via Daily Faceoff

Brady Tkachuk - Josh Norris - Claude Giroux
Vladimir Tarasenko - Tim Stützle - Drake Batherson
Dominik Kubalik - Ridly Greig - Angus Crookshank
Jiri Smejkal - Mark Kastelic - Parker Kelly

Jake Sanderson - Artem Zub
Jakob Chychrun - Travis Hamonic
Erik Brännström - Jacob Bernard-Docker

Joonas Korpisalo
Anton Forsberg


A nice simple regulation win is all we want. The Leafs gave us one, and now we want another. This time, maybe a caramel centre and no nuts, though.

The lines from practice match last game, Jones to start.

Good news, though:


Last Game (12/23) via Daily Faceoff

Matthew Knies - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Tyler Bertuzzi - John Tavares - William Nylander
Nicholas Robertson - Max Domi - Calle Järnkrok
Bobby McMann - David Kämpf - Noah Gregor

Morgan Rielly - T.J. Brodie
Jake McCabe - Timothy Liljegren
Simon Benoit - William Lagesson

Martin Jones
Ilya Samsonov

The Game

This is almost as difficult a game to play as the one after the All Star Break. It is also the "next Gen game" which mostly means something to the television broadcast and in-game entertainment plus the return of the reverse retro jerseys.

We're rusty at watching hockey in the evening, so are the teams at playing, and the game could get a little tired-looking by the third period.

Don't forget, the roster freeze thaws tonight at midnight, so get that trade speculation going!