Toronto Maple Leafs vs Ottawa Senators
7 p.m. at the Scotiabank Arena, SN1
Opponent’s Site: Silver Seven Sens
Ottawa must be as fed up with us as we are with them. The Leafs have beaten them in two games so far, allowing only one goal against, they have lost Colin White to an abnormal injury in a Leafs game, and they face the Leafs twice. for real in the first week of the season, next Thursday and Saturday. For now, there is one more bogus game to be completed before all the cuts on the list.
The Senators took advantage of White’s injury to simply take the plunge by signing a $ 900,000 contract with Tyler Ennis. They could make a few changes to their large number of exempt players, but they can’t go below 23 plus White, not until they’ve made a deal with Brady Tkachuk. He has shown no willingness to make a long-term commitment to the team at a price set now, with a tight cap. Okay, tight for everyone, not for the Senators, but it’s hard to fault him for wanting a bridge that can lead to more money or a different team.
It allows the Senators to play tonight with something like their regular season roster. The lines are not yet announced.
The Leafs still have a small handful of additional players on the roster, each of whom can play at the NHL level without embarrassing anyone. The choices they make are more specifically about who to put where on the outskirts for now, with some opportunities for several different calls.
This all assumes, of course, that Auston Matthews will be healthy enough to perform on opening night. He’s not playing that game tonight, but he should be ready for Wednesday.
Suppose someone, maybe Brooks, is playing Matthews’ place:
The Leafs trained with so many line combinations when they retired to Gravenhurst this week, that the setups for tonight could be almost anything and could change as the game progresses. The left wing’s spot on the second row is the only significant spot on the open roster, with a plethora of options for the bottom six – some bordering on the absurd, like Alexander Kerfoot as 4C.
They also played with a defensive third pair from Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren, raising a lot of hope, and – presumably – making Travis Dermott very determined to be in the games, don’t watch the games. It looks like the very first formation we’ll see might have these seven defenders.
Can you play your way on the roster on the last day of the preseason? Probably not. You might be able to play your way, however.
What’s really at stake in this game is not much more than 13 minutes of ice time instead of 11 for a couple of players. I find it hard to believe that the 12 forwards that matter haven’t already been picked. All of this for two more minutes seems a bit absurd, but the money and security that comes with that extra two minutes over the next five years is important. For a few players here, they are vying for the coveted position not to play at all. That delicious feature of the NHL where a seat in the press gallery is better than games in the AHL. It’s also better paid for a lot of players. But will it be Travis Dermott to start? It might be good.
For one last time where it doesn’t matter: Go Leafs Go!