The “Battle for Ottawa” resumes tonight as the Toronto Maple Leafs travel to the nation’s capital for a matchup against the Senators. There might be fireworks. Game starts at 7:00 pm EST.
Here are four factors that could stand in the Leafs’ path to victory:
1) Road warriors meet home bodies: the Leafs bring an impressive road record of 7-3-0 to the Scotiabank Place where the local team has skated to an even more impressive home record of 7-1-2. Only one of these records can stand to improve after the contest. Which record wins out?
Perhaps it’s appropriate that this game was close but ultimately went to the home team. A finish in overtime would’ve been nice as well. However, a poor decision by Scrivens to stop play with 20 seconds left in regulation cost the Leafs at least one point.
2) In addition to losing offensive talents Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson, the Senators will be playing without star goaltender Craig Anderson, who’s nursing a day-to-day ankle injury. Either Ben Bishop or Robin Lehner – both greenhorns – will get the start in his place. Are the Leafs able to take advantage of the Senators’ ongoing injury woes?
Bishop got the start and besides the first goal of the night, which he should’ve definitely stopped, the tall man stood tall. For the first time in franchise history, the Sens might have some decent depth in net.
3) Ben Scrivens will likely get the start for the Leafs, but there’s a good chance James Reimer will serve as his backup. Reimer has been slowly recovering from a knee injury and looks to regain his role as the team’s starter. He’ll face stiff competition from Scrivens, who has excelled in Reimer’s absence and has at least one more start to put a further impression on the coaching staff. How does the Leafs’ growing controversy in net play into the game?
Scrivens didn’t help his cause by misplaying the final shot he faced, letting Ottawa score off the rebound from a perimeter shot. Overall, however, he played well enough to earn another start until the full-time return of regular starter Reimer.
4) Colton Orr and Chris Neil exchanged some hard words in the last matchup between the two teams, but nothing came from it. This might change tonight as the Senators will want to avenge a 3-0 loss to the Leafs last Saturday. Given his inability to help on the scoreboard, does Neil’s push for relevance see him drop gloves with Orr?
Orr missed the game with an injury, making this the second consecutive game in which no fighting between the two teams took place. Are we seeing a more mature “Battle for Ottawa” these days?
Bonus Question: These two teams are arguably travelling in opposite directions. The Leafs have visions of the playoffs while the Senators are battling the demons of critical injuries. Does this reversal of fortunes see the Leafs increase their normal fan advantage in Ottawa beyond the 55% mark?
The Leafs continued to enjoy their normal advantage in Ottawa – Phil Kessel even went out of his way to thank Leafs Nation for their support via Twitter – but faint whispers of support for the local team could still he heard.
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