A point of pride the past two seasons for Leafs fans has been the domination of the Ottawa Senators, save for one loss in Ottawa last February when the Senators scored the winner with just seconds remaining on the clock. The Leafs are winners of five straight against their provincial rivals and six of the last seven. The reason is simple: The Senators have had no answer for the Leaf attack.
The Leafs have scored 21 goals in their five straight wins over Ottawa, including eight points each from Kessel and JvR. Nazem Kadri has ten points in his last six games against the team who wanted to draft him (as seen in a draft floor exchange that was one of Burke’s finer moments as Leafs GM). Joffrey Lupul has 15 points in his last nine against Ottawa. All four of these players enter this game hot.
The Senators can score too, sitting just inside the top 10 in goal scoring, and the Leafs have been in some shootouts with this team the past two seasons (literally and figuratively). The Senators are in Sabres and Leafs territory in terms of shots allowed (and were right down there with the Leafs last season, as well), which has been a bad recipe against a Leafs offense that can strike quick and, when hot, make a lot out of little.
Both of these teams are on a positive trajectory in the tightly packed Eastern Conference. While the Senators aren’t as hot as the Leafs of late, they are 9-2-3 in their last 14. They trail the Leafs by six points with a game in hand. A Montreal OT loss earlier this afternoon puts them even with the Leafs for the third and final divisional playoff spot in the Atlantic.
Greg McKegg is expected to make his Leaf debut tonight in the place of Peter Holland, who is dealing with a pretty serious case of lace bite, from the sounds of things. Carter Ashton also looks doubtful. McKegg would likely step in between Raymond and Bodie while McLaren will join McClement and Orr on line four. None of this is confirmed yet, and we won’t know for sure until game time.
Jonathan Bernier will start for the Leafs; Craig Anderson for Ottawa.