LGD: Battle of Ontario Pt. 2

After what seemed like an eternity (it was only a bye week), the Leafs are back in action tonight against the Ottawa Senators in their second game of a back-to-back.  The game hasn’t even started yet and the drama has already begun; Garret Sparks was recalled by the Leafs this morning, as confirmed by the club around 10:45am EST.  

Auston Matthews makes his return to Ottawa tonight, 3 months after scoring 4 goals in his NHL debut. Coming off a big win last night, this game is could be a crucial one down the line for the Leafs.  They are only 2 points behind the Senators in the standings, each team with 40 GP.  

THE LEAFS

Here are the Leafs line combinations, via Daily Faceoff:

There were no changes in the Leafs lineup from yesterday’s game.  These lines faired pretty well against the Rangers, and they will remain the same as they take on the Sens.  

THE SENATORS

Here are the Sens line combinations, via Daily Faceoff:

There were no changes to the Senators line combinations for tonight’s game.  Erik Karlsson is having another fantastic year for the Sens, scoring 34 points through 40 games.  His defense partner, Mark Methot, only has 5 points through 36 games.  

Dion Phaneuf is having an adequate year for the Sens as well.  Playing on the team’s second defense pairing, Phaneuf has 5 goals and 11 assists through 40 games, and is averaging around 23 minutes of ice time per GP.  

STARTING GOALTENDERS

The Leafs announced this morning that Garret Sparks had been recalled from the Marlies, and many speculated a McElhinney injury.  McElhinney was supposedly set to start tonight against the Senators, but due to a “minor injury” (nothing has been confirmed by the club as of yet), Sparks may see the start against Ottawa tonight.  Anderson performed well yesterday against the Rangers, but was also heavily put to the test: 

On the other side of the ice, Craig Anderson and Andrew Hammond are both on the Sens’ injury list.  Mike Condon will likely see the start for Ottawa tonight, with Matt O’Connor serving as his backup.  

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

There’s quite a bit to look out for in tonight’s game.  The Battle of Ontario rages on, with new twists and turns surfacing for this particular matchup.  All eyes will be on Auston Matthews, who returns to the nation’s capital after making NHL history in his league debut against the Sens.  Matthews has 6 points in his last 5 games, tallying one assist last night against the Rangers.  

The Leafs goaltending situation is another thing to watch out for tonight.  Garret Sparks has not played in an NHL game since April 9th, 2016.  

Jeff Veillette wrote a fantastic article this morning about Sparks’ recall, and you can find it here.

There’s a lot to watch out for in tonight’s game.  Between Matthews and Sparks, the storyline has just begun to write itself.  

The game will be broadcasted on CBC, tonight at 7:00pm.  

  • LukeWarmWater

    It will likely be a spirited game with Chris Neil playing his usual cheap shot style. I actually feel sorry for the guy as he has had one too many concussions with a hell of a lot of fights. There truly is a time to fold them and Neil really should consider retiring.

    As has been pointed out our old goalie Andersen after the mid season break was tuckered out after one game and there is no way we can expect him to go back to back. In reality it probably is the smart move considering his sieve performance against the Habs after he played the night before.

    In some ways it reminds me of baseball now where starting pitchers , especially in the first half of the season usually go just 6 innings. I’m not thinking of the old Plante, Hall, Bower era but my goodness one would think a goalie could go back to back once in a while and surprise, surprise come up with two stellar performances.

    I remember the Habs coach refusing to lift Montoya as Columbus caused a serious neck burn on the back up Hab goalie from the red light going on 10 times.