The Toronto Maple Leafs start their season with a back-to-back as they get ready to face the Ottawa Senators on the road tonight.
The Battle of Ontario isn’t what it used to be, but whenever the Toronto Maple Leafs face the Ottawa Senators, it’s a fun match-up.
The Leafs and Senators are two team’s going in different directions right now. Although Ottawa will more than likely be better than they were last year, the Leafs are competing for a Stanley Cup while the Senators are still in a rebuilding phase.
Ottawa got a huge boost to their lineup today as they finally signed Brady Tkachuk to seven-year deal. Toronto won’t have to worry about him, as he won’t be ready to play tonight but that’s an important signing for the roster.
Toronto Maple Leafs Face Senators in Battle of Ontario
During last year’s match-up’s, the Leafs were 5-2-2 against Ottawa and probably should have had an even better record. For those that don’t remember, the Leafs blew a 5-1 lead and eventually lost 6-5 in overtime during one of their games, which was the most embarrassing loss of the season.
Other than losing to a Zamboni driver, that was arguably the most pathetic loss for this team since blowing a 4-1 lead in Game 7 against Boston in 2013.
As previously mentioned, the Senators will be without Tkachuk, but the Leafs will still be without Auston Matthews and Ilya Mikheyev. Matthews is out until at least Monday, while Mikheyev won’t be in the lineup for another two months.
The biggest storyline for tonight’s game will be the debut of Petr Mrazek, who plays his first game in the blue-and-white. After watching Jack Campbell stand on his head last night, Mrazek should be even more motivated to play well tonight, as he looks to try and become the team’s number-one goalie.
Mrazek only appeared in 12 games last year, but during those starts he finished with a .923 SV% and 2.06 GAA (stats: hockeydb.com). If he can provide those stats behind a great Leafs offense and solid defensive-core, he could win a ton of games this season.
Matt Murray was expected to be the starter for Ottawa tonight, but he’s day-to-day with an illness, so Anton Forsberg will get the net instead.
Forsberg has a career 3.22 GAA and .902 SV% in 56 career starts, so I wouldn’t be shocked if Toronto scores a lot of goals tonight.
Speaking of which, here is my prediction:
Prediction: Toronto Maple Leafs wins 5-2 tonight to spoil Ottawa’s home opener and Nick Ritchie and Michael Bunting will both get their first career goals as Leafs.
It’s great to have Toronto Maple Leafs hockey back again and although we saw the Ottawa Senators nine times last year, it’s great to see them again.
Enjoy the game tonight. Go Leafs Go.