It’s Hockey Day in Canada and for Ontario hockey fans, that means the Toronto Maple Leafs will meet the Ottawa Senators at the Air Canada Centre. The Leafs sit just three points back of the Senators heading into Saturday’s game and could really help themselves with a regulation win against their Atlantic Division rivals.
There is one hurdle for the Leafs, however, who will be playing the front end of yet another back-to-back (heading to Carolina for Sunday’s game). The bump in the road is that the Leafs will likely be without their leading scorer Mitch Marner when they take on the Sens. Marner went hard into the boards in a game against Columbus earlier in the week and was forced to leave the game with an apparent shoulder injury. Coach Mike Babcock said on Friday that Marner’s status is day-to-day.
They could, however, have the services of Nikita Soshnikov back in the lineup as he’s expected to make his return after a short absence.
The Sens will have their starter in net once again as Craig Anderson is looking to backstop Ottawa to their 31st win of the season and his 14th of the year. Anderson’s numbers against the Leafs over his career are impressive. In 22 games, he has a 12-6-3 record 2.68 goals against average and .920 save percentage to go with three shutouts.
The Leafs will also honour the final inductees for Legends Row prior to the game during the opening ceremonies. They will join 10 others enshrined on the streets of Toronto outside of the ACC.
Ottawa Senators at Toronto Maple Leafs
Air Canada Centre – 7:00 p.m. EST
Broadcast channels – CBC and TVAS
2016-17 Season Series:
October 12 – Senators 5 – Maple Leafs 4 (OT)
January 14 – Maple Leafs 4 – Senators 2
January 21 – Senators 3 – Maple Leafs 2 (SO)
Ottawa Senators – 30-19-6 – 66 Points
Road Record: 14-10-0
Hot Players: Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone, Dion Phaneuf and Kyle Turris
Key Injuries: Clarke MacArthur and Marc Methot
Ryan Dzingel-Derick Brassard-Mark Stone
Mike Hoffman-Kyle Turris-Zack Smith
Tom Pyatt-Jean-Gabriel Pageau-Bobby Ryan
Chris Kelly-Curtis Lazar-Tommy Wingels
Fredrik Claesson-Erik Karlsson
Dion Phaneuf-Cody Ceci
Mark Borowiecki-Chris Wideman
Toronto Maple Leafs – 26-19-11 – 63 Points
Home Record: 14-9-4
Hot Players: Nazem Kadri, Auston Matthews and William Nylander
Key Injuries: Mitch Marner and Joffrey Lupul
Leo Komarov-Nazem Kadri-Josh Leivo
James van Riemsdyk-Tyler Bozak-Connor Brown
Zach Hyman-Auston Matthews-William Nylander
Matt Martin-Ben Smith-Nikita Soshnikov
Morgan Rielly-Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner-Connor Carrick
Matt Hunwick-Roman Polak
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap]The Toronto Maple Leafs will unveil their final inductions into legends Row on the ice as part of their pre-game ceremony. Currently, Legends Row consists of 10 players at this point – Ted Kennedy, Johnny Bower, Darryl Sittler, Borje Salming, Syl Apps, George Armstrong, Mats Sundin, Dave Keon, Turk Broda and Tim Horton. They are expected to add three more on Saturday and that should be it until other legends reveal themselves in Leaf uniforms.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap]For the first time this season, the Leafs will likely be without their leading scorer. After crashing hard into the boards in his last outing, Marner is expected to miss Saturday’s game. That being said, Marner has 15 goals and 33 assists this season and will be sorely missed.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap]The Leafs and Senators have already met three times this season with Saturday being their final regular season meeting. While the Senators have won two of the three meetings this season, both teams have picked up four points from those three matchups with the Leafs outscoring the Sens 10-9.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap]Former Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf will play in his 12th game against his former club. To this point, he has three goals and seven points in 11 games played against the Leafs.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]5)[/miptheme_dropcap]This is an important game for the Leafs as they have a 3-5-2 record in their past 10 games. A win in regulation would move them to within one point of the Senators in the Atlantic Division standings. It will also give them a little breathing room as the Islanders and Panthers sit just one point behind the Leafs heading into Saturday.
While the Leafs will celebrate some of their own with the Legends Row induction, the game will be played on a day celebrating hockey in Canada. Both clubs are looking to solidify their spots within the Atlantic Division, so if the rivalry wasn’t already intense, expect this game to get heated.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.