The Ottawa Senators will start a crucial six-game road trip in Toronto tonight when they take on the Maple Leafs. It is one of the most meaningful Ottawa/Toronto games in years, with both clubs in the playoff race in mid-January. This will be the fourth game of the famous Ontario Derby (maybe one day it will catch on?), with Ottawa leading the season series 2-1. The Senators have scored five goals in both games in Toronto so far this season.
Ottawa called up Andre Petersson and Mark Borowiecki but neither will play tonight. The Senators will go with the same lineup, and Craig Anderson starts for the whatever-the-number-is straight time. Paul MacLean must have zero confidence in Alex Auld at the moment.
Here are the projected lines for both Ottawa and Toronto courtesy of James Mirtle.
Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Matthew Lombardi - Tim Connolly - Joey Crabb
Jay Rosehill - David Steckel - Mike Brown
Keith Aulie - Dion Phaneuf
Carl Gunnarsson - Luke Schenn
Jake Gardiner - Cody Franson
GO SENS GO!
Here are something to look out for tonight:
- Back-to-back again: Once again the Senators will be playing for the second straight night when playing Toronto. I am sure there will be some jokes about how Ottawa didn't skate much in the last game and so shouldn't be tired, but it was a hockey game. Erik Karlsson played a whopping 11 minutes in the third. Will fatigue be a factor, especially for Craig Anderson?
- Can first line rebound: Jason Spezza's line was not very good and was outscored 2-0, hopefully Ottawa can get more production from its top line.
- Containing Phil Kessel: The man has historically lit up Ottawa. Stopping him will obviously be a key. Given his speed, he should expect to see a lot of Erik Karlsson tonight.
- Daugavins and Carkner under pressure: Paul MacLean has said that Petersson and Borowiecki will play some games during this road trip. A game in Anaheim on Saturday would seem to be the most appropriate time. There isn't much Matt Carkner can do to save his spot as the other five defencemen won't be scratched but Kaspars Daugavins can try and make the forward decision difficult for the coach.
- Chance for power play to get going: As always, the Leafs have the worst penalty kill in the league. If Ottawa can earn some power plays, it might be able to get a couple of power play goals.