This could be the year the Battle of Ontario finally returns to form. The Ottawa Senators are hoping to put forth their best (i.e. reasonably healthy down the middle) team in over half a decade, while the Toronto Maple Leafs are probably going to have another strong regular season and lose one more playoff game than they win.
Before that inevitably happens, the question of whether or not Ottawa will be the team that knocks them out will be answered over the course of 82 lively games. And before that, of course, we have the preseason.
Here it's all about evaluating individual performances, especially for those battling for roster spots. Parker Kelly, Mark Kastelic, and Zack MacEwen are starting as the fourth line, but there should be an opportunity for Egor Sokolov, Angus Crookshank, Jiri Smejkal, as well as PTO Josh Bailey.
Here are the projected lines for today's game, with Anton Forsberg projected to play the full sixty minutes:
- That top line of Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stützle, and Claude Giroux was far and away Ottawa's most productive trio last season, but head coach D.J. Smith has hinted at Vladimir Tarasenko possibly playing in Giroux's spot, in an effort to share the wealth. Considering the Senators' biggest issue last season was an inability to score goals when that top line was on the bench, splitting them up might be the best choice.
- This will be our first look at MacEwen, Smejkal, and Bailey, as well as Matthew Highmore and Nikolas Matinpalo in Senators jerseys. This season, the Senators have looked to PTOs and Europe for veteran depth, as well as targeting players such as Highmore who have some NHL experience.
- 2020 second-round pick Roby Jarventie appears to have transitioned to center long-term. He spent a decent chunk of last season playing center for Belleville with the hope of developing a stronger two-way game.
- Puck drop is set for 2:00 PM EST, and the game is available on Sportsnet One and TSN 1200.