Game day: Maple Leafs host Ottawa Senators
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Ottawa Senators at 7 p.m.
Stream / broadcast on HNIC, CBC Gem, Sportsnet, City TV, TVAS
Here we are playing hockey again. As of this writing, I’m not sure if this game will be played, but there are signs that yes it will continue, one of the many games of the day that the NHL doesn’t want to be ruined by Covid.
You can’t always get what you want, the NHL, but you can hope it. I suggest, however, taking a moment to plan for worse results.
After a host of afternoon games, the Winter Classic concludes tonight at the other Sportsnet station, where St. Louis and Minnesota play in a soccer field named after a chain of department stores that couldn’t. understand Canada. Suitable for the NHL which seems mystified by this nation.
The fan count for tonight’s Leafs game is now capped at 1,000. The next game isn’t until Wednesday, when the Oilers hit town, and then we’ll see what happens next. If you thought the randomness of hockey was boring, the real world is laughing at us right now. Hockey at least has some predictability.
I said “some”. The first comeback game after nearly three weeks where half the squad had Covid could be any type of game. Ottawa last played on Dec. 18 and had players absent, practices canceled, but they didn’t have to figure out how to evacuate a plane full of players and staff for Christmas. They should have been in the back half of a back-to-back game tonight, but their game yesterday was postponed under the “Canada is weird and they are confusing us” clause of the NHL’s new programming paradigm.
Who’s in the Senators right now? You never know these days. They have four injured players, including Nikita Zaitsev. They sent Michael Del Zotto and his $ 2 million salary to the AHL.
The Senators’ defense begins with Thomas Chabot, who is spectacular, and ends with Erik Brännström when they never seemed to want it. Jacob Bernard-Docker is absent, replaced by Lassi Thomson.
Matt Murray, who was sent publicly to the AHL to reflect on what he had been up to (being himself) is back.
Are there soap operas in the advanced body? The problem could be finding enough healthy bodies, and the team called in AHLers today. However, Brady Tkachuk does prove some things we should really try to remember about the% shot and how long it can be in a trough. This is not good news for the Leafs.
The Senators are a bad team. Matt Murray has been a scapegoat to an extent, but the goalies are bad, the team are very bad defensively and they allow a lot more goals than they score. They produce an attack at a poor pace so if the goalie is hot they can win, but the depth of their lineup is terrible. The development of their prospects is highly suspect, and given the Canadiens this year, they could theoretically have secured a playoff berth if they’d bothered to try even a little. The scary thing is that this version of the team could be that they are trying really hard to be successful while they rebuild themselves.
The probable lineup for tonight is similar to that of Daily Faceoff:
Brady Tkachuk – Tim Stützle – Drake Batherson
Alex Formenton – Chris Tierney – Connor Brown
Zach Sandford – Dylan Gambrell – Austin Watson
Clark Bishop – Adam Gaudette – Logan Shaw
Thomas Chabot – Lassi Thomson
Nick Holden – Artem Zub
Erik Brännström – Victor Mete
As fun as it is to tear up the Senators, rightly so, because they’re really, really bad, and also bad to be bad, because they probably won’t have Shane Wright… they can totally beat the Leafs, the Leafs can fight, and / or the universe can just beat the Leafs for fun.
The Leafs are coming out of a long layoff, and while the players can stay in shape, they have only skated the last few days as they returned to the arena once they passed the health checks. .
The big news is the glorious and wonderful crunch the Leafs are caught in. Why is it good? Because it means everyone is healthy. Jack Campbell and Petr Mrázek are both on the list at the same time. And Mitch Marner was activated out of the LTIR.
The Leafs use a clever ploy to temporarily make room for him by dropping Rasmus Sandin into the AHL. He’s not eligible for the Taxi Squad, so he shouldn’t participate in Leafs practice until they turn the tide. Timothy Liljegren is in the same boat while also being in the Covid boat right now, so he cannot be the moved player.
The plan appears to be that Jake Muzzin and / or Morgan Rielly will not be allowed to play, leaving the Leafs with four healthy defenders who are not in Covid protocol, and they can then call emergency replacements for Sandin and Alex Biega. William Nylander’s status is also called into question.
Tonight’s lineup should be:
Michael Bunting – Auston Matthews – Mitch Marner
Alex Kerfoot – John Tavares – William Nylander
Ilya Mikheyev – David Kämpf – Ondřej Kaše
Pierre Engvall – Jason Spezza – Wayne Simmonds
A combination of:
TJ Brodie, Travis Dermott, Rasmus Sandin, Justin Holl, Alex Biega and then …?
Jack Campbell is looking to start with Petr Mrázek as a backup.
The arena will be almost empty, but the game will continue. It is all I have. Anything can happen in a game like this.