Toronto Maple Leafs Series Against Senators Will Be Most Important

OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 15: Tim Stützle #18 of the Ottawa Senators battles for a loose puck against Jake Muzzin #8 of the Toronto Maple Leafs at Canadian Tire Centre on January 15, 2021 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 15: Tim Stützle #18 of the Ottawa Senators battles for a loose puck against Jake Muzzin #8 of the Toronto Maple Leafs at Canadian Tire Centre on January 15, 2021 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) /
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 The Toronto Maple Leafs will play the Ottawa Senators Nine times this year.

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost the first game of the series on Friday night, and this article was written before the results of last night’s game.

The Friday night loss was not just frustrating because the Toronto Maple Leafs blew a lead or lost to a team that is predicted to occupy the bottom of the standings. It is frustrating because this regular season series against the Senators may be the most important of any.

The Leafs were cruising through the first half of Friday’s game. They controlled the play for the most part, they hemmed Ottawa in their own zone for multiple long stretches but only managed two goals halfway through the game. That’s when things went sideways and Ottawa went off, scoring four unanswered goals the rest of the way. The Leafs only made it slightly less embarrassing by tallying a power play goal in the 3rd period.

The Maple Leafs play the Senators nine times this year,  and they have already squandered two points out of a possible 18 crucial points. Considering the parity in the Canadian Division these games against the Senators may prove to be the deciding games throughout the division.

Senators Games Highly Important

The rest of the Canadian teams all play each other nine or ten times and it is possible those games could be a wash. The team that ends up with a losing record, or even a .500 record, against the Senators will surely be the team that ends up on the outside of the playoff picture.

I expect a much different performance from the Leafs for the rest of the season while playing the Senators. They were too relaxed on Friday with their zone entries and passing in the offensive and neutral zone. Hopefully they have learned from that and realized that you cannot take any NHL team lightly, even the Senators.

The Senators showed us on Friday that they will work hard for all 60 minutes and playing against them this year is not going to be a guaranteed two points for any team. You have to work, you have to play the right way, and you have to take advantage of every opportunity you get against them.

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The Toronto Maple Leafs need to take the Senators seriously and take a step towards being an elite team by regularly crushing bad teams.  Another loss to the Senators could be devastating for their playoff hopes.