Preview and GDT: Maple Leafs at Senators (7 p.m., CBC)

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A great picture.

The Leafs return to Ottawa for the first time since April 20, 2013, the night of a 4-1 Leafs win that clinched their playoff berth for the first time in 9 years. Good times.

And remember this angry drunk Sens fan from the Leafs’ 4-0 win over the Senators a few weeks earlier?

That was also the night Cherry laid the kiss on Nazem Kadri on Coaches Corner after the game. Good recent memories in this rink. I usually get out to one Leafs/Sens game in Ottawa a year because it’s my favourite regular season matchup. The 50/50 split in the crowd makes for a great atmosphere, and most of these Leafs fans are of the rabid variety, getting a rare chance to see their team and feeding off of each other as they sense the Blue and White faction is taking over the enemy rink.  Day vs. night compared to a week night game at the ACC.

The Senators have outshot and out-corsi’d their opponents in five straight, but are 2-3 over the span. The Leafs have outshot opponents in a total of three games this season.  And yet the Leafs are seven points ahead of the Senators entering tonight, a pretty healthy lead at the 29-game mark.

9 points would sound even better. If I’m understanding the new playoff structure properly, the Leafs are currently holding onto the last wildcard spot in the East. I could be wrong as it’s going to take me years to stop thinking  in terms of the “top 8.” Regardless, putting more distance between you and a divisional opponent is always a good thing, and points are especially needed when the games after tonight go as follows for the Leafs:

Boston, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Chicago, Pittsburgh. That is as tough of a five-game stretch as you’ll find on any NHL schedule.

John-Michael Liles may or may not play tonight, but I’m hopeful he does in Mark Fraser’s place. It’s interesting to hear Jake Gardiner has been revisiting the tape from the Bruins series, but if the coaching staff did the same they would see Liles and Gardiner in with Kostka and Fraser out was the recipe for success. In an ideal world this team would have a shutdown defenceman who can skate and move the puck better than Fraser, but we don’t have that luxury. Playing to a strength and loading the group up with puck movers may  be the best bet.

James Reimer will start in net for the Leafs on account of his years of dominance in the nation’s capital, where he is remarkable 6-0-0 with a .977 save percentage.

Dave Poulin pregame:

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Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]
  • Coldincowtown

    Stating the obvious, but we really need to take it to the Sens and win this game, with a tough schedule following this one. Hope Reims can maintain his dominance in Ottawa rink.

  • lieffan

    That photo + .gif are amazing.

  • CHRONIC BLAZEE

    Coldincowtown agreed. Its key we get the first goal and turn their building on them early

  • GreekLeafer

    Walked by the hotel and saw the Leafs signing a few things for kiddies and going on the bus.

  • conebone

    GreekLeafer where do they stay? in Kanata or downtown?

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    They better not be playing any pussy music in the dressing room tonight.  And if they are, it better be decent pussy music!!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBEXSiFzOfU

  • GreekLeafer

    @conebone GreekLeafer The Westin Hotel at the Rideau Centre mall downtown.

  • conebone

    GreekLeafer huh I was there today. should’ve popped in and said hi to the boys!

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    I’d keep Bernier in after his last performance, but that’s just me.  It’s not what have you done for me (6-0-0)….it’s what have you done for me lately??!!

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Bon Scott was a Leaf fan And lately both goalies are the only reason we’re on the + side of .500.

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    Alec Brownscombe Bon Scott was a Leaf fan
    I’d still keep Bernier in to be honest Alec.  Dude put on a clinic against Dallas.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Bon Scott was a Leaf fan Alec Brownscombe It is true that Reimer got chased last out vs. the Sens.

    But not sure Carlyle can go wrong

  • Faalcon

    Lately, there has been minimal contribution from Clarkson, Kuli, and Raymond in terms of secondary scoring. Hoping for our D to contribute to point production looks like hoping against hope when keeping the puck out of our D looks like a Herculean task. One line cannot do all the scoring  all season long. I hope Nonis looks for some sort of retooling where we can get help in secondary scoring as well as some contribution from the D.

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    Faalcon Raymond has been carrying his weight in the scoring department. the other 2 i agree with you on

  • Faalcon

    Yes he has, but he is no sniper and we need one with Kadri on the second line. The two players on the first line are so good they can almost carry a half decent center. Unfortunately, we do not have a finisher on the second line. Lups is good be he misses so many games. If there is another legit finisher like Cammllari it will help lups too because then the second line can become very dangerous on a nightly basis. Alas there is the cap and so many other considerations.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Faalcon Thursday night was Clarkson’s worst game to date, and not just because of him somehow being several feet offside on Trevor Smith’s breakway off a stretch pass originating out of his own zone, lol. Although that was indicative of questionable decisions by #71 throughout the game.
    What I hope for is a trickle down effect from adding a player like Clarkson. 35-40 points works, if that’s all he puts up. But you’re paying for this guy to be part of the soul of the team, or, as cliched as it sounds, a beating heart in its identity. He’s had his moments, but so far I’ve mostly seen a player that is struggling to find a way to impact games besides pointless chirping after whistles with the refs in between.
    Not expecting him to be Clark, and there is lots of time to change this early perception, but forget the points… Step up and deliver, Clarkson. A weekend with two divisional rivalry games is a great time to do it.

  • maple1967leafs

    tttt

  • Faalcon

    Yes Clarkson has not delivered so far and we hope he will and soon because it is extremely difficult to climb out of difficult situation trying to catch teams and make the playoffs. It also drains teams.

    Clarkson has to put his best foot forward and contribute offensively at this difficult time for us. Hopefully when our Chicken Nugget Boazak is fully healthy and Bolland comes back, the pressure on him will be less.

    In my opinion, Toronto is a big stage. whereas it can catapult a player into stardom instantaneously, it can also expose players brutally. I think the later is happening to Clarkson who was playing relatively quietly in New Jersery and was not subjected to this much of scrutiny. I hope, he succeeds here, but as they say in agreements, time is of the essence and it is time for Clarkson to deliver..Corporal Kamarove is not very far off the mark these days and I hope Clarkson reads what he has said so far and reacts on the score sheet.

    In the bigger picture though, I wouldn’t mind Clarkson playing on the third line making a heck of third line, provided we can have a finisher on the second line.

  • Cloud09

    TheCanucksnaphook Neanderthal

  • rustynail

    TheCanucksnaphook its ALWAYS a good time for that

  • Faalcon

    That is intent Be careful Bud

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    lets go boys, need a big W tonight!

  • Faalcon

    You got it

  • Faalcon

    That is right and then there will come the Causation

  • wiski

    GO!

  • Faalcon

    Let’s put it another way and say that we want to bulldoze the sens.

  • Waiting4LSC

    That means shots on net. Here’s hoping we can go really BIG and top 30. :)

  • BPsotka

    HHH GLG!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xa7q4v_yPuM

  • Waiting4LSC

    Neil please!

  • Faalcon

    Yes and it is a phrase where the distillation of the meaning can be extremely vague

  • InNonisWeTrust

    Pork Oven Roast in the oven, cold beers in the fridge, enough marijuana to last months, and your 2 best guy friends coming over to enjoy it all with you…PRICELESSS! GO LEAFS GO

  • wiski

    TheCanucksnaphook wiski GO!

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    BPsotka love Billy Talent

  • Doorman

    Phook!  Learn how to play the Wind Mill Hole!!!  Life becomes much easier after that!!!  Lol

  • Faalcon

    Me too

  • BPsotka

    Dangle_My_Berries BPsotka Theirs has been two of the three concerts I’ve seen. The second one, they dedicated this song to the Leafs’ playoffs, telling our opponents they may as well surrender.

  • InNonisWeTrust

    Shift_Disturber1 all are welcome! haha

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    BPsotka Dangle_My_Berries always liked their music, bunch of Canadian beauties.

  • Doorman

    InNonisWeTrust Slow cooking a 5lb Prime Rib!!!  Fuck my friends!!!  lol

  • wiski

    Crankit bitches 😉
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENpb9jNpq48

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    Doorman InNonisWeTrust
    Nice!!  Gotta love prime rib!!

  • wiski

    Bon Scott was a Leaf fan Doorman InNonisWeTrust low and slow baby low and slow

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    TheCanucksnaphook
    Started 6 hours ago when I woke up, dude.

  • lukethenuke

    Bon Scott was a Leaf fan TheCanucksnaphook hahahahah

  • Doorman

    Bon Scott was a Leaf fan Doorman InNonisWeTrust I Love that meat site you posted!!!

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    wiski
    That’s actually some good headphone tunage.

  • Doorman

    wiski Bon Scott was a Leaf fan Doorman InNonisWeTrust 250

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    Doorman Bon Scott was a Leaf fan InNonisWeTrust
    Yep…me too.  They believe in slow cooking too.

  • Waiting4LSC

    Cranked. Enjoyed. Different style. Appreciate you sharing.

  • lukethenuke

    Watching the game with a Sens fan…. I will never hear the end of this if it goes south for the buds…. PLEASE I BEG WIN!!