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

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

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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:

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]
1246 comments
loomx
loomx

Fraser is simply not an NHLer and Franson isn't playing like one right now. Waive Fraser, replace him with Rielly, replace Franson with Ranger, roll 7D, only play Franson on the PP. 

whalz
whalz

Did anyone else notice how close Fraser was to Franson on that 3rd goal by sens? Wtf was he doing? Liles looked great today for his 1st game this season,,,I'd like to see Reilly in and Fraser out tomorrow but RC loves the slow dman

AlbertaMapleLeaf
AlbertaMapleLeaf

Cold here in central Alberta. -38c this morning. Leaf win warms me up a lot.

AlbertaMapleLeaf
AlbertaMapleLeaf

Good thing we have a 1a and 1b otherwise, we would have burned out our number one if that was all we had. 40 to 50 shots a game.

djamon
djamon

@wiski Awesome play. I'm sure Marchant was on the ice after diving to draw a penalty.

juliesucks
juliesucks

Wow...but it's Marchand, so I really dont care

GreekGod
GreekGod

@wiski

Meh... as far as i'm concerned Marchand had it coming with the way he plays 

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

Phone hearing means light sentence.

djamon
djamon

@loomx Rielly's been meh the majority of the time. I have no issues with him sitting, TBH.

Xxxxxnew
Xxxxxnew

We wanted to pay Franson $4 million last September just so he's sign.

mike_84
mike_84

@loomx you gotta keep playing Franson and hope he gets his game together

rustynail
rustynail

@wiski adaoter is a big whiner, never pay attention to his thoughts on anything

mike_84
mike_84

@whalz ranger will play over Rielly

mike_84
mike_84

@AlbertaMapleLeaf Ya my brother inlaw keeps sending me temp updates. said it was -39


dog wont even go outside to pee

WendelBark
WendelBark

I like to see bruins and pens killing each other.

juliesucks
juliesucks

True, but we've had so many of those all year. I goalies should be our highest paid players

loomx
loomx

@GreekGod @loomx @TheCanucksnaphook @Burtonboy coughed up the lead late in the 3rd against Dallas, coughed up a two goal lead against Pittsburgh, coughed up the lead against Washington, and tonight. That's 4 times in the last 8 games. Pathetic.

juliesucks
juliesucks

When we have a lead in the 3rd...we're on our heels big time