Preseason action starts tonight in Toronto, but I'd be hesitant to call it a Battle of Ontario -- the result doesn't matter and both teams are going to be icing lineups full of AHL- and junior-bound players.
Even though the result doesn't matter, it would be wrong to call it meaningless: for the large number of players on the fringe of making it to the NHL, these preseason games are some of the most important games of their season.
Tonight's line-up, according to TSN:
Filatov - Regin - Butler
Michalek - Zibanejad - Stone
Greening - Smith - Neil
Hoffman - Kenopka - Lessard
Kuba - Karlsson
Wiercioch - Conboy
Cowen - Rundblad
There are a number of inexperienced players in that line-up, particularly on the blueline. Given the relatively strong line-up that the Leafs are icing, the Senators have a pretty big challenge ahead of them for their first game of the preseason.
Some things to watch for:
- Nikita Filatov in a Senators jersey.
- Whether the off-season debate about the place of fights in the game has any effect on the pre-season. My guess? Not a chance -- just look at the Senators' lineup.
- After both had down years due to injury, how do Filip Kuba and Milan Michalek fare in this game?
- Mike Hoffman making great plays that are wasted on Zenon Kenopka and Francis Lessard (honestly, why is Hoffman playing on that line?)
- Jared Cowen and David Rundblad as a pairing. Could this be a pairing we see throughout the season?
As always, join us in the comments before, during, and after the game!