GDT: Battle of Ontario Part 2 – Leafs at Sens (Sportsnet, 7:30 p.m)
MAPLE LEAFS (7-2-1)
at SENATORS (6-5-0)
TV: SNET-Ontario, SNET-East, TVA
LAST 10: Toronto 7-2-1, Ottawa 5-5-0
Kessel: 16pts in 12 games versus Senators.
The Battle of Ontario resumes tonight with the second matchup in a six-game series between the two clubs this season. The Toronto Maple Leafs, by many accounts, are the best team in the Eastern Conference right now and it’s not unreasonable to say, possibly the entire league. After convincingly outplaying and beating perennial Stanley Cup contenders, the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-3 Saturday night, Toronto’s team looks to be figuring out who they are and how they play. There was a palpable buzz in the City of Toronto after last night’s winâ€”a demonstration that they can run with any team in the league. Toronto is starting to win all types of games, but what they’re showing in a general sense is thatÂ they can force teams to play their fast, chance-for-chance brand of game, one which allows their now-potent offense to make the difference. Also encouraging is Toronto’s ability to quickly bounce back after conceding.
Toronto’s top two lines are proving to be a dominant force, but the 3rd and 4th lines have been keeping the pressure up, making it a wave after wave of attack that is hard to endure. The Leafs’ defence corps is getting quick first passes up the ice in a hurry and hitting the Leafs forwards in full stride. Toronto’s speed through the neutral zone is easily among the fastest in the leagueÂ and one of the hallmarks of their play. In shortâ€”extremely entertaining hockey to watch. Jonas Gustavsson had an excellent Â game last night in Toronto (named as 1st star) and looks to have found the confidence in his game again. Consecutive starts has proven wonders for his game and this only bodes well for the Leafs if they can get goaltending like they got from him last night.
Trending as one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference themselves as of late, Ottawa is on a five-game winning streak and have shown a lot ofÂ resilience in a few comeback performances. The Battle of Ontario was starting to lose a bit of it’s luster, but with both teams competitive at the moment, it’s sure to be aÂ fieryÂ affair. Both teams played last night, so there are no excuses from either side.
“Who’s Hot: Spezza has been huge in Ottawa’s recent run, with at least a point in the last six games and a goal in five of six. â€¦ With all eyes on Kessel, wingerÂ Clarke MacArthur could be a difference-maker for the Leafs. He’s got goals in back-to-back consecutive games.
Injury Report: Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson left Saturday’s game with a head injury, and Alex Auld missed it for an undisclosed reason.
Stat Pack: With 10 goals through 10 games, Kessel is on pace for 82 over a full season. His career high is 36 with Boston two years ago. He has 32 and 30 in his two seasons with the Leafs. His 18 points are nearly 30 percent of his 2010-11 total of 64.
Puck Drop: The Maple Leafs organization are taking part in Movember, a worldwide effort to raise awareness for prostate cancer in which men grow mustaches throughout the entire month of November. In addition to many in the organization and former captain Wendel Clark, four current members are taking part in the effort, including goalieÂ Jonas Gustavsson, who has won two of three since he replaced an injuredÂ James Reimer and had 34 saves against the Penguins.”