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Game 71 preview: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Ottawa Senators

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A preview of the game between the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs on 21 March 2015.

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

On the morning of 17 December, Dave Cameron was three games into his career as the Senators head coach having gone 1-1-1. Ottawa was 12-12-6 and 11 points behind the 19-9-3 Maple Leafs. The Leafs had won six in a row and had gone 10-1-1 in their previous 12 games. The Senators would start to play better, though the results wouldn't show until the past month while the Leafs barely won again. The Leafs have gotten just 19 points in their next 41 games while Ottawa has had 51 in 40 games since then.

Tonight, Ottawa has a chance to move into a playoff spot for the first time since 22 November should they win and the Boston Bruins lose in regulation to the Florida Panthers. Meanwhile the Leafs are currently 27th overall in the NHL.

The only change in the lines is that Matt Puempel was curiously promoted to the top line with leading goal scorer Mike Hoffman demoted to the fourth line. Here are the lines from Gord Wilson.

Puempel - Zibanejad - Ryan
Michalek - Turris - Stone
Condra - Pageau - Lazar
Hoffman - Legwand - Chiasson

Methot - Karlsson
Wiercioch - Ceci
Borowiecki - Gryba

Hammond (starter)
Driedger

Some notes for tonight:

  • Ottawa could potentially move their playoff probability over 50% with a win tonight and a Bruins regulation loss.
  • Jean-Gabriel Pageau has four points in his last six games and probably should have a lot more with the chances his line has created. As the old saying goes, can't teach small.
  • With a strong finish (11 or more points in the final 12 games), Mark Stone can become the 11th rookie in the salary cap era to get 60 points.
  • After playing just two times this season, the Senators and Leafs will play for three consecutive weekends. Tonight in Ottawa, followed by the Senators first visit to Toronto next Saturday followed by another game in Toronto on 5 April.
  • Ottawa's trip to Detroit on 31 March is their only game outside Ontario until the season ending two game road trip to New York and Philadelphia.
  • Erik Karlsson is running away a little bit with the team scoring lead, but it's a tight three-way battle for the leading forward. Bobby Ryan and Kyle Turris are at 50 while Stone is at 49.
  • Ryan is ninth in the NHL in points by right wingers while Stone is 12th.
  • Phil Kessel has just one goal (on a penalty shot) in his last 11 games but has 25 career goals in 48 games against Ottawa.
  • Karlsson is the 10th defenceman in NHL history with three or more seasons with 250+ shots on goals. He's the fifth to do it by age 24.

Here are some stats for the two teams tonight. All stats are from NHL.com except Corsi and Fenwick are from www.puckon.net.

Category Ottawa Toronto
Player # Player #
Goals Mike Hoffman 24 Phil Kessel 24
Assists Erik Karlsson 38 Phil Kessel 30
Points Erik Karlsson 56 Phil Kessel 54
Shots Erik Karlsson 251 Phil Kessel 237
Average Ice time Erik Karlsson 27:02 Dion Phaneuf 23:23

Category Ottawa Toronto
# Rank # Rank
Goals For 2.81 10th 2.57 21st
Goals Against 2.56 13th 3.15 26th
Score adjusted Corsi % 50.7% 18th 45.1% 27th
Score adjusted Fenwick % 49.1% 20th 45.0% 28th
Shots For 30.7 12th 29.2 23rd
Shots Against 32.5 26th 33.2 29th