Well, today, the Senators are in a dogfight for the division lead, not for the first overall pick in the 2012 draft. Booyah. Meanwhile, tonight's opponent, picked by just about everyone to finish better than the Senators, sits six points out of a playoff spot. The Maple Leafs have been hammered by injuries, inconsistent goaltending, a lame duck coach and every other excuse you can think of. This is not the same team that shut out the Senators 5-0 on February 4th. In fact, they may be more dangerous. There are many reasons for the Maple Leafs to get up for this game: pride, keeping their fading playoff hopes alive, the opportunity to play spoiler against their rivals... you name it. And it doesn't help that the Senators are coming off back-to-back overtime games against Montreal, with the second game occurring just last night. A tired opponent is the best opponent.
For the Senators, though, the stakes are even higher. If they want to regain their tenuous hold on the division lead, they must keep winning games. You have to believe waking up and looking at the standings this morning served as a wake-up call for Boston, given how they played this afternoon. If the team wants to prove themselves as a legitimate threat in the playoffs, they need to demonstrate they can win when it's not so easy.
Tonight's game won't be easy.
On another note, today is St. Patrick's Day. (Trivia: Tonight's opponents were once known as the Toronto St. Patricks. Think that played a part in today's schedule?) One of the things I hate about St. Patrick's day is how everyone thinks it's cool to pretend they're Irish. No one dressed up like a woman for International Women's Day (except for women, presumably)--why do we need to pretend to be Irish for a day? The day isn't even called "Irish Day"; it's called St. Patrick's Day, and it's to commemorate Saint Patrick bringing Christianity to Ireland. You know where it makes sense to celebrate this event? In Ireland. But we are not in Ireland, and I am about as Irish as I am female, so why am I the jerk if I don't wear green?
That long-winded intro leads to this: In celebration of this tradition of nonsense, here are tonight's projected lines, reimagined by yours truly:
O'Butler - Moran - McCulloch
O'Mahony - Collins - Ryan
White - Z. Kennedy - O'Callaghan
Kane - O'Brien - O'Neill
(scratches: Gallagher, Buckley)
Sheehan - Regan
McLoughlin - Boyle
Wondering who's who? This guide should help. I will confirm correct guesses in the GDT, so that's an excuse to hang out with us instead of walk around a bar with a "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" shirt, hoping someone will. No prizes, though, because you are all cheating cheaters and will just use the Internet to cheat and look at our projected lines.