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Game 72 Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Ottawa Senators

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The Sens face off against their Ontario rivals.

Ottawa Senators v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

The Ottawa Senators hit the ice today to face the Toronto Maple Leafs, in this season’s third of four instalments of The Battle of Ontario. The season series is tied 1-1, as the Sens beat them 5-3 at the beginning of the season, with Toronto getting it back in a 5-4 game last month.

While the difference in standings for these two teams is massive, the Sens have today’s rest advantage. The Leafs are on the second half of a back-to-back, coming off a thrilling 7-6 comeback victory in their home arena. Backup goalie Garrett Sparks gets the nod in net, with the Sens are sending out Anders Nilsson.

Colin White is out with a neck injury, with no timetable for his return. Erik Brannstrom and Cody Goloubef were sent back down to Belleville yesterday to accommodate the returns of Mark Borowiecki and Christian Jaros. Thomas Chabot’s season-ending injury is a big blow to a lineup, although with the Sens not playing for anything, it’s best that he takes his time to heal up.

Here are the projected lines and pairings from TSN 1200, and they’re not pretty.

Tkachuk - Pageau - Veronneau
Balcers - Tierney - Paajarvi
Smith - Lindberg - Ryan
Duclair - Gibbons - Boedker

Harpur - DeMelo
Wolanin - Ceci
Borowiecki - Jaros

Nilsson (starter)
Anderson

Game Notes

  • I’ve honestly been pretty tuned out of the Sens for the last couple weeks, so take my analysis with a grain of salt. But playing Ben Harpur on the first pairing seems like a less-than-ideal situation.
  • Nilsson will be a player to watch in the season’s home stretch. He’s been very up-and-down as of late, stopping 92 of 97 shots in his last three games (Sv% of 94.8%), although stopping only 135 of 159 (Sv% of 84.9%) in the previous six. Will he want to stay? Will the Sens think he’s worth signing to an extension? They definitely seem comfortable giving him playing time.
  • It’s interesting to see how much the perception has changed amidst the fan base when it comes to playing rookies. Just a couple years ago, it was all about taking precaution with guys like Dzingel and Chabot, out of fear they’d become another Curtis Lazar or Cody Ceci. Now Max Veronneau and Rudolfs Balcers are in the top six, playing against top players, and there doesn’t seem to be any concern. Does the fact that the Sens are rebuilding change anything? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
  • Game time is 7:00 p.m., and will be broadcast on CBC, Sportsnet 1, Sportsnet Ontario and TVA Sports 2.

Here are some stats from NHL.com and Natural Stat Trick:

Team Stats

Ottawa Senators Buffalo Sabres
Ottawa Senators Buffalo Sabres
Category Value Rank Value Rank
Goals/GP 2.96 18th 2.69 24th
Goals Against/GP 3.69 31st 3.25 23rd
Shots/GP 29.9 24th 32.6 10th
Shots Against/GP 36.0 31st 33.1 24th
Powerplay % 20.3 15th 18.2 18th
Penalty Kill % 79.1 23rd 80.7 16th
Corsi (5v5, Score & Venue Adjusted) 44.32 31st 49.02 18th
Fenwick (5v5, SVA) 44.93 31st 49.03 19th

Player Stats

Ottawa Senators Buffalo Sabres
Ottawa Senators Buffalo Sabres
-- Player # Player #
Goals Brady Tkachuk 19 Jeff Skinner 37
Assists Chris Tierney / Thomas Chabot 37 Jack Eichel 49
Points Thomas Chabot 50 Jack Eichel 75
Shots Brady Tkachuk 187 Jack Eichel 278
TOI/GP Thomas Chabot 24:07 Rasmus Ristolainen 24:42