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LGD: Keep that win train a’rolling

It’s game day!

The Toronto Maple Leafs are set to take on the Ottawa Senators tonight, facing their provincial rivals for the first time in the regular season this year.

Ottawa is coming off of two straight losses, while Toronto is riding a three-game win streak. Excitement abounds, or so they tell me.

LEAFS PREVIEW

Forward lines (via Mark Masters, morning skate)

Zach Hyman-Auston Matthews-William Nylander
Patrick Marleau-Nazem Kadri-Leo Komarov
JvR-Tyler Bozak-Connor Brown
Matt Martin-Dominic Moore-Mitch Marner

Extras: Leivo, Fehr

Defensive pairings (via Mark Masters, morning skate)

Jake Gardiner-Nikita Zaitsev
Morgan Rielly-Ron Hainsey
Andreas Borgman-Connor Carrick

Extra: Calle Rosen

Starting goaltender: Freddie Andersen

There really isn’t too much to say here. Marner, after struggling early on, has been relegated to the fourth line – which, we suppose, is better than being relegated to the Tucson Roadrunners.

Toronto managed four goals on their first five shots in their last game, riding the wave to a 6-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings to extend their record to 6-1-0.

They’ll have to look to do something similar in this game, since it’s been another year of slow starts in net for the team’s two goaltenders.

Andersen still hasn’t crested a .900 save percentage in all situations, having allowed a whopping five low-danger goals on just 55 LD shots to kick off the year (which leads the league; only two other starters have four LDGA, one has three, and the rest have two or fewer. Six starters still haven’t allowed a low-danger shot to find the back of the net.) Then there’s McElhinney – who has a slightly better .909 save percentage in all situations, but remains an inconsistent option on low- and medium- danger shots.

The good news, of course, is that the offense has been plentiful.

Auston Matthews leads the team with 10 points in seven games, but 14 different players have at least one goal – and nine have more than one. Patrick Marleau remains an excellent pick-up from this summer, and hopefully Marner’s new place in the lineup will help him regain some of his scoring touch from last year.

SENATORS PREVIEW

Forward lines (via Brent Wallace)

Bobby Ryan – Derick Brassard – Mark Stone
Ryan Dzingel – Kyle Turris – Alex Burrows
Mike Hoffman – PG Pageau – Tom Pyatt
Nate Thompson – Logan Brown – Chris DiDomenico

Defensive pairings (via Brent Wallace)

Johnny Oduya – Erik Karlsson
Dion Phaneuf – Cody Ceci
Frederik Claesson – Chris Wideman

Starting goaltender: Craig Anderson

Chris DiDomenico will make his regular season NHL debut for Ottawa on the fourth line, as Zack Smith sits out for what’s estimated to be a week with an upper-body injury.

The team didn’t release official blue line pairings, but expect that they’ll remain as listed above, which was the order on Friday; Mark Borowiecki is still out day-to-day, so there’s no real need to change anything there.

Ottawa got off to a hot start on the season without captain Erik Karlsson, then mysteriously dropped the two games they played once he returned. Don’t expect that to be a trend, though; it’s hard to imagine that the team will remain in the losing column for long with their most prized player on the ice once again.

Craig Anderson is back in goal, so the Anderson-Andersen showdown is on. He’s been solid so far on the year, but it’s surprising to see him get yet another nod; the Senators were expected to split the starts with a few more in favor of Mike Condon, and so far he has just one appearance. If they’re saving him for down the back stretch to give Anderson a rest, though, expect to see him for at least one of the games between the divisional rivals in either January or February.

Kyle Turris leads the Senators in scoring with eight points in seven games, although their own scoring has been a bit more lopsided than Toronto’s. Just 10 players on their roster have recorded a tally so far – Bobby Ryan not being one of those – and only seven skaters have more than one goal through this point in the year. For Toronto’s suboptimal defensive results, this could be a godsend.