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Game 1 Preview and Open Thread: Ottawa Senators vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

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The. Battle. Of. Ontario. Is. Back.

NHL: OCT 06 Senators at Maple Leafs Photo by Jeff Chevrier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’re finally back! For the first time since March 11th, 2020, the Ottawa Senators will play NHL regular season hockey. And there’s no better way to start off the shortened season than with another edition of Uber Driver vs. Zamboni Driver.

The Senators will enter tonight’s tilt with a blend of youth and experience, featuring four players aged 22 and under on their top two lines. Among those names is 2020 3rd overall pick Tim Stützle, who’s celebrating his 19th birthday today. He’s impressed the staff in Ottawa enough to earn a spot on the big club, and he’ll be demonstrating his puck wizardry on a line with new additions Derek Stepan and Evgeni Dadonov.

As for the Toronto Maple Leafs, they’re coming off a 5-4 overtime win against the Montreal Canadiens, and Leaf fans seem to think it wouldn’t have happened if not for a Wayne Simmonds fight. So as long as nobody drops the gloves, we should be good!

Here’s how the Sens will line up tonight according to TSN 1200:

Tkachuk - Norris - Batherson
Stützle - Stepan - Dadonov
Paul - Tierney - C.Brown
Paquette - Anisimov - Watson

Chabot - Gudbranson
Wolanin - Zaitsev
Coburn - J.Brown

Notes:

  • For tonight’s game, please consider donating to Canadian Blood Services through @SensMotB, in honor of Brian Fraser! I myself am donating $2 for each minute of Stützle’s ice time tonight.
  • Josh Norris and Drake Batherson have earned a fantastic opportunity to play alongside one of the league’s best drivers of offense in Brady Tkachuk. It appears both are NHL-ready, but how much of an impact they’ll have early on is anyone’s guess.
  • Evgeni Dadonov is a hell of a free agent signing, a top-six sniper who will definitely boost the Senators’ offense this year. His shot and Stützle’s vision and offensive creativity could be a match made in heaven.
  • Last-minute acquisition Cedric Paquette has never been fantastic at even-strength play, but the good news is that he should help the Sens’ penalty kill, which ranked 28th last season. The following chart from @IneffectiveMath shows how the Tampa Bay Lightning fared on the PK last season with Paquette on the ice. Note that purple areas correspond to fewer shots than average:
  • Don’t miss tonight’s game at 7:00 PM EST, on TSN5, RDS, or TSN 1200!