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

Can the Sens start this season in the best way possible?

Photos-leafs Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images

An Ottawa Senators regular-season game? With fans in attendance? It’s been far too long! Indeed, with the start of another season comes a slew of reasons to get excited about your favourite hockey team.

It’s going to be fun to watch this developing group of players prove that they’re ready to climb out of the basement. As with last season, young players will be the driving force, with hopes that the club’s veterans will be able to insulate them with much more success than in years past.

Tonight’s opponents, the Toronto Maple Leafs, edged out the Montreal Canadiens by a 2-1 score and will play the second half of a back-to-back without Auston Matthews in the lineup. It’s a golden opportunity to catch the blue team with their pants down.

Here are the projected lines for your Ottawa Senators, based on today’s morning skate:

  • Matt Murray was under the weather yesterday with a non-COVID illness. It appears he isn’t 100% as of now, as Anton Forsberg will start in goal, according to head coach D.J. Smith. Filip Gustavsson has been recalled as the backup.
  • With the ever-present hole in Ottawa’s top-six, Tim Stützle has been shifted up to the top line. Nick Paul fills in on the second line. Playing with Norris and Batherson should allow the 19-year-old German sensation to continue to hone both his offensive and defensive capabilities, and Paul has always seemed like a player who could hold his own with talented players up front, similarly perhaps to Zack Smith’s breakout 2015-16 campaign in which he notched 25 goals.
  • Injuries to Colin White, Austin Watson, and Clark Bishop have delivered a blow to Ottawa’s depth, but even if the lineup was fully healthy, Shane Pinto would’ve still easily made it. He was incredibly consistent during the preseason, and is most definitely NHL-ready. Can he take on the role of a top-six forward just three seasons after being drafted? If not today, he very well may be tomorrow. Rapid improvement has been his calling card these last few years.
  • I don’t want to jinx anything (too late), but I’ve got a good feeling about Nick Holden. I’ll make a bold prediction and say he scores a goal tonight.
  • Sens Money on the Board is back for another season, and this year’s proceeds will go to Kids Up Front, an organization providing Ottawa youths with access to arts, culture, and sporting opportunities. Here’s how you can pledge:
  • Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 PM EST, and you can catch the action on TSN4, TSN5, and RDS2, as well as TSN 1200.

Huh. Guess we’re winning the cup this year.