Maple Leafs welcome Senators into town for the first Battle of Ontario of 2023-24

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
8 months ago
It wasn’t the prettiest of wins on Monday, but the Toronto Maple Leafs found a way to claw their way back to a fun albeit stressful 6-5 overtime win over the Lightning. It snapped their four-game losing streak, and although there was time to celebrate the win, they have another challenging task ahead of them tonight.
Toronto welcomes the Ottawa Senators into town for the first edition of the Battle of Ontario this season. Although the Senators sit in last place in the Atlantic division, sport a record of 4-6-0 through their first 10 games, and have lost five of their previous six games, everybody already knows that Ottawa always seems to play some of their best hockey against Toronto. Fans shouldn’t expect an easy game tonight despite the injuries to Ottawa’s roster and their recent struggles. This team desperately needs a win, and Toronto needs to grab another win if they want to catch up in the Atlantic.

Maple Leafs’ lineup:

It was a different-looking lineup for Toronto in their previous game, and although it didn’t start well, the new-look lineup helped cue a massive comeback that resulted in an overtime win. It appears that Keefe will not make any changes to the lineup tonight and will roll with the same combinations against the Senators.
According to Mark Masters of TSN, Joseph Woll was also the first goalie off the ice earlier this morning and is projected to get the start against Ottawa. No surprise here, given how the last game played out. Samsonov continues to struggle despite a pretty good showing against the Bruins in his previous game.

Opponents lineup:

The Senators have had their struggles this season. From poor performances, to injuries, to suspensions, it’s been a rough go for the Senators so far. All the more reason for them to show up against Toronto tonight. According to Claire Hanna of TSN, these were their lines at practice yesterday.
Just by looking at this lineup, it’s clear that they are missing a handful of their everyday players. They are without Thomas Chabot, Ridly Greig, Shane Pinto, Erik Brannstrom. Artem Zub, who is pencilled in on the first pair, is a game-time decision tonight, according to head coach DJ Smith.
If you’ve learned anything watching Toronto Maple Leafs hockey over the past years, you should know that this team can’t take anybody lightly, no matter who they are missing in their lineup. Toronto is known for playing down to their competition, so let’s hope they come out ready to play this one.

Players to watch:

With a new-look lineup, it comes with the potential for some new chemistry, and that’s what we witnessed in their last game against the Lightning. We knew Matthews and Marner had chemistry, but by adding Knies to that top wing, that line took it to another level and had an excellent showing. I’m looking at those three guys to deliver another solid game against another divisional rival.
Another line that seemed to form some chemistry was the third line of Nick Robertson, Max Domi, and Calle Jarnkrok. They didn’t have the same production as the top line, but they delivered a crucial tying goal early in the third period and had their scoring chances throughout the game. That line has the potential to help this team and add secondary scoring to the lineup. Moving Domi to center seemed to do wonders for him, allowing him to skate and move his feet more than he was before. Adding Robertson to a scoring line could also benefit him in his development instead of throwing him on the fourth line at times as they’ve done in recent years.
You can catch the Maple Leafs and Senators tonight in action on Sportsnet. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.

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