Preview: Game #45 Leafs @ Sens - Ohhh Baby!!!

Cam Charron
April 20 2013 02:17PM

It's going to be Bob Cole broadcasting tonight's Maple Leafs and Senators game. It ought to have a good playoff atmosphere. Say what you want about Hockey Night in Canada—their production is second-to-none and their microphones relay in the perfect amount of crowd, ice and broadcaster noise.

This will be the last game Ottawa and Toronto play against each other this season, barring some sort of wizardry that allows the two teams to meet up in the playoffs. The teams almost certainly won't be the 4-5 matchup. But with Cole calling the game, a loud, multi-partisan crowd at Scotiabank Place, and a relevant game between two winning teams playing against each other in April for the first time in nearly a decade… this is going to feel kind of cool. As long as the Senators wear their old red jerseys with the black swish and not the boring ones they have now.

Stakes:

Winnipeg got a single point against the New York Islanders in this afternoon's game. That means that the most they can end up with in their remaining three games is 55 points and 24 regulation or overtime wins:

The Maple Leafs currently have 53 points and 24 regulation or overtime wins. Do the math there. That second category is the first tie-breaker, so two points, that don't come in a shootout, will put the Leafs in the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

However, with the two points taken by the Islanders today, a non-shootout loss would send the Leafs into a tie for 6th (with New York) although they have clinched the tiebreaker over both Islanders and Senators. The Sens can't clinch tonight, so if they win, the earliest either team would be able to clinch is Monday when the Jets play again. The Senators would own the fifth seed tonight with a win, whether it's in regulation, OT, or shootout, based on having played fewer games than Toronto or the Islanders.

Broadcast Info:

TV: CBC

Puck Drop: 7 PM EDT

By the Numbers:

  Ottawa Toronto
Corsi Tied % 52.4% (10th) 44.2% (29th)
5v5 GF/GA Ratio 1.09 (10th) 1.05 (11th)
Team Shooting % 6.29% 10.40%
Team Save % 0.938 0.924
Team PDO 1.001 1.028

Special Teams:

  Ottawa Toronto
PP Success 16.8% (18th) 19.0% (14th)
5v4 GF/60 6.10 (15th) 6.49 (13th)
5v4 SF/60 54.0 (3rd) 44.6 (20th)
PK Success 88.3% (1st) 86.8% (3rd)
4v5 GA/60 3.59 (2nd) 4.72 (3rd)
4v5 SA/60 51.8 (24th) 40.3 (3rd)

Starting Goaltenders:

  EV SV% Quality Start Rate Starts Quality Starts
Craig Anderson 0.954 75.00% 20 15
James Reimer 0.925 51.85% 27 14

Numbers via Hockey Analysis and NHL.com

Setup:

What happened last time the Leafs played Ottawa? Well, Nazem Kadri scored a hat-trick, the Leafs won 4-0 and Nazem Kadri was kissed by Don Cherry. As good buddy Dustin Pollack notes over at Yahoo!:

Before CBC could cut to commercial at the end of the segment Cherry laid a sweet smooch on Kadri’s left cheek something he’s famous for doing to Leafs great Doug Gilmour on the same post-game segment in the early ‘90s.

The problem? Kadri hasn’t scored since, which has some in the media referring to the smooch he received from Cherry as the ‘kiss of death’, and this is the point of the regular season when the Leafs need his offensive production most.

On April 1st, I wrote a thought with the headline "Be cautious about Nazem Kadri". I unfortunately didn't write an actual post about Kadri's sure-to-regress on-ice shooting percentage, but I have made allusions to it over Twitter and such. His on-ice shooting percentage was hovering around 20% at that point, and it turns out it's tougher to score points when one out of every five shots you're on the ice for are going into the net.

So the "slump" isn't an indication that Kadri is falling apart in this market under heavy expectations. It's a slow-down. Kadri's true talent isn't two points per eight games. It's closer to five or six points per seven games, or about 55-60 over the course of 82. Now he's down to 14.7% according to Behind the Net.

As for the Senators… well, getting Craig Anderson back helps. He's only played in 20 games this season and I doubt we can expect his save percentage to stay at .954 at even strength. He's had an absurd year broken up by injury. Always thought he was pretty good and underrated, but he's not this good.

Neither is the Senators' penalty kill, which is 1st in percentages and 2nd in goals against rate. They're 24th in giving up shots. Anderson's stopping .922 of shots on the PK, and Robin Lehner has stopped .964. That's an absolutely absurd number, and part of what can happen in a short season. The sample is too damn small and eventually things will balance out.

Here are the Sens' lines via friend of The Leafs Nation Chris Lund and OttawaSenators.com:

Milan Michalek - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Cory Conacher - Mika Zibanejad - Jakob Silfverberg
Matt Kassian - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Colin Greening - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Erik Condra

Chris Phillips - Marc Methot
Eric Gryba - Jared Cowen
Patrick Wiercioch - Sergei Gonchar

Craig Anderson
Robin Lehner

Here is the Senators' lineup as submitted to Bob Cole:

The Ottawa Player - The Ottawa Player - Daniel Alfredsson
The Ottawa Player - The Ottawa Player - The Ottawa Player
The Ottawa Player - The Ottawa Player - Chris Neil
The Ottawa Player - The Ottawa Player - The Ottawa Player

The Ottawa Defenceman - The Ottawa Defenceman
The Ottawa Defenceman - The Ottawa Defenceman
The Ottawa Defenceman - The Ottawa Defenceman

The Goaltender

The second line is nicknamed the "Calder" line. Zibanejad is second on the team in Corsi and that line generally gets the sheltered starts. They're designed to be good offensively.

The third line gets defensive treatment and are nicknamed "the monosyllabic line" since no member has a vocabulary consisting of any word longer than their names. They are, however, plus-possession players facing the toughest minutes on the team (Smith is .832 Corsi Rel QoC with a 48.9% offensive zone start rate) so they can be forgiven for their cavemanish ways.

As for the Leafs, well, Clarke MacArthur, Matt Frattin and Ryan Hamilton have been rotating through duties as healthy scratches as Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren continue to waste ice-time. Again, we don't know what kind of lineup Randy Carlyle will ice. Last game they announced early on in the day that McLaren was out and Frattin was in, but Frattin sat out his second straight contest and McLaren played 5:57.

I expect the defence will stay together though. I've enjoyed Jake Gardiner and Dion Phaneuf as a pairing and they've been the only pairing that hasn't gotten killed in puck possession over the last two games. Would expect they see mostly time against the Calder Line since Carlyle doesn't get last change and will send them out primarily in defensive spots. I do know that whether the Turris line or the Zibanejad line get out against Ryan O'Byrne, they'll probably be the ones doing the most damage from a possession perspective.

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Cam Charron is a BC hockey fan that writes about hockey on many different websites including this one.
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