Game 44 preview: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Ottawa Senators

Claus Andersen

A preview of the game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators on 20 April 2013.

The surging Ottawa Senators will play the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs at the neutral venue of Scotiabank Place tonight. The Senators have won four in a row while the Leafs have played badly in three consecutive games despite winning one of them.

There will be only one change tonight with Guillaume Latendresse sitting for Lord Protector Matt Kassian. Craig Anderson will make his fourth consecutive start. Here are the lines and pairings from Nicolas St-Pierre.

Michalek - Turris - Alfredsson
Conacher - Zibanejad - Silfverberg
Greening - Pageau - Condra
Kassian - Smith - Neil

Phillips - Methot
Cowen - Gryba
Gonchar - Wiercioch

Anderson (starter)
Lehner

Some notes for tonight:

  • The Senators have had some of their worst results against the Leafs this season. Ottawa has played four games against Toronto and been outscored 14-7 in those games and trailed by at least three goals at one points in all three losses. In the other 39 games against teams other than Toronto, Ottawa hasn't trailed by three goals for a second.
  • The Leafs have been outshot by 5.3 shots per game on average, which is second worst in the league ahead of only Edmonton. By Fenwick close, the Leafs are also second worst at 44.12% ahead of only Buffalo. Thanks to James Reimer's goaltending and the skaters shooting 11.4% the Leafs have managed to sit in a playoff spot.
  • Toronto has 45 major penalties this season which is 11 more than second place Philadelphia. This means Matt Kassian will return to the lineup and fight Colton Orr and/or Frazer McLaren. Hopefully Zack Smith and Chris Neil don't pass him the puck though.
  • Mika Zibanejad is coming off a great game where he had seven shots and was a threat all night. Jakob Silfverberg however had only one shot and has been held without a point for five straight games with only eight shots on goal in those games.
  • After a few bad games for the Bruins, the Senators have the #1 penalty kill in the NHL at 88.3%. The Leafs are #3 at 86.8%.
  • Alexander Ovechkin played largely against the Kyle Turris line and the Marc Methot/Chris Phillips pairing. The Leafs have two dangerous scoring lines in the Kessel line and the Kadri line. I would suspect that Phillips/Methot will get Kessel while Gryba and Cowen play against Kadri.
And here are some other stats from BehindTheNet.

NAME TOI/60 Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Relative Off Zone Start %
Turris 14.93 0.57 -4.3 51.4
Alfredsson 14.13 0.17 2.7 53.3
Michalek 14.04 -0.029 3 58.8
Smith 13.7 0.832 -2.9 48.9
Silfverberg 13 0.553 1.6 60.5
Greening 12.76 0.491 0.1 52.9
Neil 12.49 0.748 1.3 49
Conacher 11.9 0.332 1.4 56.5
Zibanejad 11.19 0.088 6.9 64.1
Condra 10.87 -0.106 8.2 51.6
Pageau 10.73 2.417 10.6 27.3
Kassian 5.94 -1.4 -1.1 58.2

Pageau's usage is really astounding. He's playing really tough competition and starting heavily in the defensive zone, and more than holding his own.

NAME TOI/60 Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Relative Off Zone Start %
Methot 18.25 1.05 -5.1 50.3
Gryba 17.84 1.39 -17.5 48.7
Gonchar 17.09 0.274 -1.3 53.4
Phillips 16.16 0.329 -6.4 51.3
Cowen 14.5 0.505 0.5 64.7
Wiercioch 12.79 -0.626 15.4 59.9

This defensive unit really could use Erik Karlsson can't it? Patrick Wiercioch's rookie season probably isn't getting enough attention but it isn't that far off from Erik Karlsson's rookie season. He's being protected but he is doing great in that role.
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