Tyler Bozak‘s back and hopefullyÂ Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul tooÂ as the Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Ottawa Senators tonight.Â . James Reimer will also make his first start since December 31st and Jay Rosehill will trade his suit for a jersey for the first time since December 19th.
This is the fourth of 6 meetings between the bitter rivals, with the Senators leading the season series 2 – 1. Sitting in 9th place, one point out of 8th, the Leafs can ill afford to lose in this key 4 point game.
A key to tonight’s game will be how the Leafs manage to reign-in a surprising Senators team that has gone 8-1-1 in their last ten and have skyrocketed up the standings in the Eastern Conference.
Working in the Leafs favour tonight is that the Sens lost in a stinker against the Winnepeg Jets less than 24 hours ago and figure to be gassed compared to a rested Leafs squad.Â Working against the Leafs is the fact that Craig Anderson, the player I opined to be the single most important factor to a successful Senators club earlier this season, has been just great of late, receiving first star of the week honours for his tremendous showing after a horrible start to the season.
Throughout the day, the impending Battle of Ontario was overshadowed by the plethora of roster moves that occured.Â Darryl Boyce, nursing various non plexiglass induced injuries will sit for Rosehill, while the recently cool Nazem Kadri will sit for the healthy Bozak.Â Yesterday, Jake Gardiner was recalled and will play, and to make space for the rookie eitherÂ MikeÂ Komisarek or Luke Schenn is expected to sit.Â Â News broke first that Schenn would sit, then the internetÂ fell to pieces trying to speculateÂ as toÂ where and for whom Schenn and Kadri had been traded.Â Both Jonas Siegel and Bob McKenzie have unsuccessfully tried to perform the task of talking Leafs Nation back from the ledge with the information that Komisarek would be scratched.
Here’s my two cents on the matter.Â There’s some logic behind the argument that Ron Wilson made these decisions based off of pre-scouting, using Rosehill to counter Zenon Konopka and Chris Neil, and that Tyler Bozak is a decidedÂ upgrade on Nazem Kadri over 200 feet of ice.Â Frankly, the decision to sit Kadri speaks to the fact that his job security is tied to his offense at this stage and with an important game tonight, Wilson feels that Bozak gives the club a better chance of a W.
As it relates to Luke Schenn, we won’t know till we know.Â It’s a game time decision.Â Conflicting reports throughout the day from both players and media-types alike haven’t helped, and Wilson’s lack of transparency on the subject is hilarious heartless.Â This man does not know how to play to his audience, a bunch of manic panic-button sorts (present company excluded of course).Â This isn’t the first time Luke’s sat this season, and for what it’s worth, I don’t see Burke trading Schenn within 5 months of signing him to a 5 year deal.Â That doesn’t exactly instill loyalty within a company.
As a mea culpa, both Kadri and Schenn have been tethered to trade rumours ever since they played one game in a Leaf uniform and didn’t outperform Darryl Sittler and Borje Salming.Â With the team teetering in and out of playoff contention, people are looking for a sign – any sign – that Brian Burke will bring in an impact player to put the Leafs over the top.Â It is funny though that all the trade proposals stopped the second it was announced that Komisarek could be sitting.
Regardless of who is out, the Leafs take on the Senators at 7, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.Â Big big game tonight.