Leafs-Senators Preview: Battle of Ontario Round One

Luke Schenn usually saves his best for the Senators

Once upon a time, the Ottawa Senators were a regular season powerhouse. The rivalry with Toronto was, post-lockout, christened "The Rape and Pillage of Lower Ontario" by Chris Selley of the National Post because of how brutally the newcomers to the NHL would pummel the Heroes. They even made a Stanley Cup Final in 2007! And then a funny thing happened on the way to a repeat appearance in the Final: the Senators imploded.

And so now, the Leafs sport a healthy 11-5-2 record against them over the past three seasons and with the Senators heading towards a battle for 30th for the next couple of seasons that record needs to improve if the Buds want to make the playoffs.

The Leafs will only make one change to the lineup as Colton Orr steps in for Jay Rosehill. This is about as ‘like-for-like’ of a change as you’ll see. He has a willing dance partner in the apparent loather of Toronto and owner of a stupid name, Zenon Konopka:

“I hated Toronto before I got to Ottawa. It helps that everybody in Ottawa hates Toronto as well.

“We had some rivalries with them last year (in Long Island) and there are a lot of guys on that team that aren’t getting a Christmas card from me and, hopefully, aren’t looking forward to me being in the lineup. I’ve followed the rivalry quite close and it’s a good one.”

The saying that you can tell the quality of a man by judging his enemies makes me wish Konopka was a much better player. Alas, we’re stuck with a fourth liner that will probably engage in a staged fight at some point. Hooray!

David Steckel will be an interesting one to track since it seems that Ron Wilson is going to ride him hard on face-offs throughout the game.

James Reimer gets the start with Jonas Gustavsson as the backup. Both goalies have given the Senators fits over their careers. As pointed out by Garrett Bauman, Reimer is 2-0-1 with a 0.98 GAA and a .963 SV% and 1 shutout in three games. Gustavsson counters with a 2-2-0 record with a 1.72 GAA and a .936 SV% in four games.

Toronto’s Lineup


Matt Frattin – Mikhail Grabovski – Nikolai Kulemin
Joffrey Lupul – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Colby Armstrong – David Steckel – Philippe Dupuis
Mike Brown – Matthew Lombardi – Colton Orr


Carl Gunnarsson – Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles – Luke Schenn
Jake Gardiner – Mike Komisarek


James Reimer
Jonas Gustavsson

While the Leafs were winning their season opener over the Montreal Canadiens, the Ottawa Senators were trying to avoid getting blown out by the Detroit Red Wings. While it was touch and go, a couple of late sympathy goals put a gloss on a 5-3 final.

Bobby Butler will be a scratch for tonight’s game as Zenon Konopka draws in as the designated punching bag for Colton Orr since Zombie Matt Carkner is out of the lineup through injury. David Rundblad, the defenceman who was not supposed to be a healthy scratch is a healthy scratch as he tries to adjust to the North American game. Funny thing about dominating Sweden, sometimes that doesn’t translate well to the NHL. Just a rumour I’ve heard though.

Hope Anderson has a lot of sunblock

The Senators will be hoping that tonight is one of the night’s that The Human enigma Nikita Filatov (just guessing at what the Ottawa mittenstringers will be calling him soon enough) will find some chemistry with Giggles Spezza. Otherwise, Reimer may have a hard time battling yawns.

Make no mistake, this is a game the Leafs have to win. At the end of the year, every point lost to the hapless Senators will go down as a criminal act of negligence.

Ottawa’s Lineup


Milan Michalek – Jason Spezza – Nikita Filatov
Colin Greening – Mika Zibanejad – Daniel Alfredsson
Nick Foligno – Stéphane Da Costa – Chris Neil
Erik Condra – Zenon Konopka – Zack Smith


Filip Kuba – Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen – Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips – Brian Lee


Craig Anderson (starter)
Alex Auld