Game 40: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Ottawa Senators

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Let's come right out and say it.  This game is a must-win for Ottawa.  Below .500 almost halfway through the season, reeling offensively from the loss of Jason Spezza, and unable put together a winning streak after beating two superior opponents, the Senators simply cannot afford to lose any more games to teams they should beat.  And though Toronto is -- to the shock of no one -- not the powerhouse they appeared to be at the start of the year, they're also not as bad as they have been in past years.  They don't take Ottawa lightly, and the Sens will lose if they don't adopt the same attitude.  Fast.

Here's who to watch for tonight's game.  If they aren't listed here, they're not going to do anything, so might as well not even worry about them, OK?

  • Brian Elliott: Slumping after streaking, Elliott needs to play well tonight.  Head coach Cory Clouston doesn't appear to have any confidence in Mike "Not Martin" Brodeur, so it's Elliott or nothing.
  • Filip Kuba: Returns from his one-game banishment tonight.  Clouston says Kuba knows what he needs to do.  Now he just needs to do it.
  • Jim O'Brien: Played well enough to keep Jarkko Ruutu on the bench.  Considering Ruutu's play this year, that's not a bad thing at all.  O'Brien actually gives the team some decent line combinations with Spezza out of the lineup.
  • Erik Karlsson: In a two-game slump of his own, Karlsson is suddenly a player integral to the Senators' successes this year.  They don't play consistently enough for Karlsson to have a bad game.
  • Mike Fisher: Has two goals in his last three games. 
  • Jesse Winchester: Continues to elevate his game.  He was once again Ottawa's best center and with the way things are going, he might well be on a top line before too long.

As always, join us in the comments section.  It's not like you have anything better to do!

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