After collapsing in the final five minutes of the third on Monday, and ultimately losing in overtime, the Toronto Maple Leafs renew hostilities with provincial rival the Ottawa Senators.
For the Leafs, they have been playing hockey that Mike Babcock surely isn’t happy about. Before Monday’s collapse, the Leafs were winners of consecutive games, but when you look at the way the team has played in the last week and a bit, the Leafs are losers of four of their last six. Late game collapses have been a theme for the Leafs lately as they have blown a chance to win in regulation in their two wins in 2018, but self-inflicted wounds have been the cause for the Leafs lack of closing out games. Another cause for concern for the Leafs have been their lack of goal scoring. With 134 so far, the Leafs ranked fifth in total goals, but in four games in 2018, the blue and white only have six goals in four games.
If you thought that was bad Leafs fans, I know you are happy seeing how provincial rival Ottawa Senators are free falling to the bottom of the standings. Ottawa have picked up two big wins against Tampa Bay and the San Jose Sharks, before last night when they got absolutely pumped by a struggling Blackhawks team 8-2. The biggest issue facing this Sens team has been their goaltending. Craig Anderson had a miraculous season last season, driving the bus for the Senators Cinderella run to the conference finals. Now Anderson is toward the bottom of almost all goaltending statistics and at the age of 36, his best days may be behind him.
Player to watch for Ottawa:
Erik Karlsson is obviously someone to watch for the Sens, but the biggest X Factor in this game for Ottawa is Mark Stone. The 25-year-old has been the lone bright spot in a season full of turmoil for the Senators. Stone currently 42 points in 41 games and leads the Sens is points, 12 points clear of Karlsson in second. Stone is also one of the best defensive forwards in the game as he has the most takeaways in the game the last three season.
The rivalry is renewed between these two Ontario teams which is enough to get excited for. Despite both teams playing poorly heading into this game, I think the rivalry itself is enough to make this game “must watch”. Especially with how bad the Sens have been this season, Leafs fans should tune in if they want something to smile about tonight. 5/5 on the scale