Well, I am not sure too many people expected this. It's early in the season, but the eighth seeded Ottawa Senators (and tied on points for fifth) take on the second seeded Toronto Maple Leafs. The game will also feature the two leading scorers in the NHL: Phil Kessel and Jason Spezza.
There has been a lot of change for the Senators this weekend. Robin Lehner was called up to be the backup last night and he will make his first NHL start of the season tonight. Daniel Alfredsson left the game in New York yesterday with an injury and he will not play today. While Nikita Filatov was called up, as of right now he is not playing. Alfredsson's spot will be taken by Bobby Butler.
The Filatov call-up really has me puzzled. When asked if Filatov is playing, Paul MacLean replied with "not at this time". He was pressed further on it seeming odd to call up Filatov without playing him, MacLean was tight-lipped on whether another player is banged up or if he was worried about a possible suspension to Zenon Konopka. You can watch the full video here.
UPDATE: MacLean's answer did seem a little roundabout, and now it appears Filatov will play for Konopka.
There were a lot of players missing in practice, so I am just going to assume it's the same lines from yesterday with Butler in Alfredsson's place.
Robin Lehner (starter)
Stats and talking points after the jump.
Here are my talking points:
- Spezza versus Kessel: Phil Kessel leads the NHL with 18 points. Jason Spezza is second with 15 points. Spezza also has 199 career goals and is on a six game point streak, totalling 6 goals and 11 points in the span. Kessel incredibly has 16 goals in his last 17 games against Ottawa.
- Karlsson versus Phaneuf: Erik Karlsson leads all players with 11 assists and his 12 points are the most among defencemen. Dion Phaneuf is a point behind at 11. Phaneuf has been playing very well, with 20 hits, 13 blocked shots and is playing 26:34 a night. Leafs coach Ron Wilson called him the best defenceman in the NHL right now.
- King Robin starts: Had Alex Auld been healthy, would Craig Anderson have started? Is Auld's injury a front to rest Anderson but save face on Auld? I am probably just over thinking it. This is Robin Lehner's first regular season start against the Maple Leafs, hopefully he is ready for it.
- Gonchar red hot: Sergei Gonchar is on a four-game points streak, contributing six assists in that span.
- Rundblad getting more comfortable: Rundblad played 20:45 against New York while Jared Cowen played only 13:38. At this rate, if Brian Lee ever gets back in, it won't be at Rundblad's expense. Not to say Cowen has been bad though, all the defencemen have been good recently.
- High scoring game: The last time the clubs met, the score was 6-5. Both clubs are in the top five for goals scored per game and bottom five for goals allowed. The penalty kills are both in the bottom five and Ottawa has the #2 power play in the NHL. So, I guess it will be a 2-1 game then.
Here are the 2011-2012 comparative statistics for the Senators and the Maple Leafs: