The Toronto Maple Leafs had a nice little break for the holidays but now it's back to work.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will resume the 2023-24 NHL season by taking on the NHL's biggest disapointment of 2023, the Ottawa Senators.
This was the year the Leafs were supposed to have trouble with the rebuilt Senators, and while the Leafs have been winning when playing badly, while the Senators have just been playing badly and losing.
As Leafs fans we should be thankful because if not for some great play by Joseph Woll and an incredible amount of lucky results, the Leafs would be in the NHL's basement along with the mysteriously bad Senators.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Ottawa Senators
Tonight's game will feature Martin Jones starting in net, which I think is pretty dumb. Martin Jones is an awful goalie who has been what the struggling Ilya Samsonov is right now, for five years.
Jones has been fine for the Leafs, but realistically, he's not a good NHL option, and even though Samsonov might have some issues right now, Samsonov is clearly better. Also, in the future, Samsonov is the one who can actually help the Leafs win games, so I don't see why they wouldn't just give him some games to try and get out of his head.
On the injury front, Mark Giordano remains on the sidelines, and so do Ryan Reaves and Joseph Woll. The Leafs desperately need Woll back, but it would be better if the other guys just moved to Robidas Island.
With the World Junior tourny in full swing, it may be hard to get excited about a mid-week game between Ottawa and the Leafs, but regardless how badly these two teams have played this year, there is a lot of talent on their combined rosters and it should be a lot better than the recent spat of Columbus Blue Jackets games we've been subjected to.
The Leafs lines look pretty much the same as they did Saturday, and we can only hope that the coach will finally give Nick Robertson a more regular shift and some power-play time.
The Robertson/Domi line overall should be losing their minutes (negative xGoals) but that is because they have no defensive awareness. Offensively, they are doing great and both are scoring at a first line rate. I very much would like to see both players put into roles where they don't have to be so sheltered, and were their offense could maybe help the team a bit more.
Other than that, it's Ottawa vs Toronto at 7PM. Go Leafs!