Hey, look at that! The Toronto Maple Leafs are going to be playing on national television tonight, against the Geographically Ambiguous Ottawa/Kanata Senators. It’s the Battle of Ontario, except unlike last year, Senators will have some of their best players not out to devastating injury.
The Leafs are… 1-0-1 in the preseason? Sounds about right. With Phil Kessel out of the lineup tonight, the Leafs turn their focus to the third line, where Mason Raymond gets a chance with David Bolland and Nikolai Kulemin, to prove his worth on a checking line.
The training camp roster is down to 34, which means there are still 15 cuts to be made if this team is going to become salary cap-compliant anytime soon. Here is the Leafs’ roster for tonight. I count 12 plausible NHL players:
I would have liked to see Joe Colborne get a shot with van Riemsdyk on one side and Kessel on the other, in Tyler Bozak’s usual spot, but I’ve given up realistic hope of any other centre playing with Kessel this season barring injury or a trade.
The Senators have put out their roster as well. They have Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson, Bobby Ryan, Craig Anderson, Milan Michalek and Mika Zibanejad all in the lineup, so at least this game will be pleasant to watch, with both teams putting out NHL-heavy rosters.
What to watch for? Good hockey? I’ll be keeping an eye on the game, and in particular tracking the Raymond-Bolland-Kulemin line’s effectiveness in the defensive zone relative to other lines. It will be a hilariously small sample, but we may only get one or two games to judge the efficacy of that unit before Dave Nonis & Co. make a decision as to whether to give Raymond a contract or not.
7:30 Eastern, on TSN. Set your PVRs, because what else are you going to record? Survivor? The Blue Jays? I don’t think so.