Photo credit:Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Maple Leafs finally play again as they visit their second home in Ottawa
By Joseph Zita2 months ago
It’s been quite a weird schedule so far for the Toronto Maple Leafs as we approach the middle of December. The team will be playing just their 23rd game of the season – second fewest in the league at this point – and is coming off another four-plus day rest in between games after hosting the Boston Bruins last Saturday. Tonight, they head out on the road for a quick stop in the nation’s capital to take on the Senators.
Maple Leafs’ lineup:
There have been a few news drops between games for the Maple Leafs, and they are about the lineup, specifically tonight’s. Yesterday, it was announced that defenseman John Klingberg would be undergoing surgery on his hip and will miss the remainder of the season. Depth signings William Lagesson and Simon Benoit will continue to see game action with this news, as well as Liljegren and Giordano still out with an injury.
Per Sheldon Keefe, Ilya Samsonov will also not dress for tonight’s game, making Martin Jones the backup. Samsonov has been battling an illness, and the team has elected to give him a little more rest.
In regards to the rest of the lineup for tonight’s game, here were their lines at yesterday’s practice, according to David Alter.
It appears that Toronto will be going with the same lineup on forward and defence for tonight’s second Battle of Ontario of the season, with Bobby McMann and Max Lajoie skating as extras.
Toronto’s opponent, the Ottawa Senators, has played even fewer games than the Maple Leafs (20) and currently sits in last place in the Atlantic division with a record of 10-10-0. They are, however, on a two-game winning streak as they look to win their games in hand to climb up the division standings.
According to Bruce Garrioch, here are the Senators’ lines from earlier this morning:
It’s a similar-looking Ottawa lineup from the first time these two teams met in Toronto in early November, with some players in new spots this time. However, one notable name who will not be playing against Toronto again is defenseman Thomas Chabot, who is sidelined with another injury after he returned to action a couple of weeks back.
The Senators took care of business in their last meeting against the Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena, as they walked in and walked out with a 6-3 win. However, it must be said that the Maple Leafs fell apart in the third period, allowing Ottawa to score three goals in a three-and-a-half-minute stretch after Nick Robertson scored to tie it at three roughly eight minutes into the third period.
This time, Toronto will have to play a much better all-around game because we all know the Senators, like many other teams, wake up to play against Toronto.
Players to watch:
I’ll have my eyes on Joseph Woll again as he makes his fifth consecutive start for Toronto. The 25-year-old will be playing five straight games for the first time this season, so it’s important to see how he manages the workload that’s been given to him as of late.
The third line of Robertson, Domi and Jarnkrok will also have my attention. Saturday night against the Bruins was the first time they recorded a point in the same game since their Black Friday loss to the Blackhawks on November 24th. Since then, the three have combined for just four points in the last four games.
Special teams are also a key area where Toronto needs to be more consistent, more so the power play as of late. The power play was electric to start the season, and the penalty kill was the opposite. However, as of this writing, it’s been reversed. Although I wouldn’t say the power play is hurting them in games to a point where they’re losing a ton, the man advantage is not firing at the same clip it was to begin the season.
Their power play is just 1-for-15 (6%) since returning from Sweden, and their penalty kill is 14-for-15 (93%) since that time too. It’ll be crucial to see if Toronto can get back to scoring goals on the man advantage because if they do, it might help them close out more games in regulation.
You can catch the Maple Leafs and Senators tonight in action on TSN4. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.
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