Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Game Day Preview: Battle of Ontario #6

We have decided the best way to do pregame blogs is to see how the two teams match up in each facet of the game.


Line 1: MM-Spezza-Foligno vs Kulemin-Bozak-Kessel.
Give the edge in overall skill to the Sens as Spezza has more goals than any Leaf except Kessel despite playing 47 games and having an off year. However Kessel seems to love to be a sens killer with 5 goals already this year.

Line 2a: Shannon-Regin-Kovalev vs Caputi-Grabovski-Stalberg
Its hard to count Kovalev out of any game, and Caputi was in the AHL two weeks ago. Not to mention Stalberg still is afraid of the thought of crossing the Sens blueline.... Give this one to the Sens as it has been one of the better lines all year.

Line 2b: Kelly-Cullen-Alfie vs Hanson-Lundmark-Mitchell
Hansons playing better each game, and against the Oilers Mitchell looked strong. Cullen has played well, but Shannon is in a bit of a slump. The difference will be Alfie who is better than any of these players. If he gels with the Sens this will be a big Sens win.

Line 4: Ruutu-Winchester-Neil vs Orr-Primeau-Wallin
Wallin may one day be a strong defensive forward for the Leafs, but I think Ruutu and Neil are stronger than Primeau and Orr. Don't forget Ruutu has 10 goals. Not bad for a 4th liner with no powerplay time.

NOTE: Mike Fisher is doubtful for tonight, but I think he might play, so that would give a resounding win to the Sens on all lines


Pair One: Philchenkov vs Beauchemin-Phaneuf
Apples to Oranges. One shuts down, the other is built for offence. We'll call this a draw

Pair Two: Karlsson-Sutton vs Kaberle-Schenn
You will learn we have huge man-crushes on Karlsson. That said, if you (as a Sens fan) respect only one Leaf, it's Thomas Kaberle. He gets the edge over Sutton, but I think in the battle of 19 year old blueliners, Karlsson is currently playing better. This pair is a draw as well. However, observe Suts tagging Lundmark below.

Pair Three: Carkner-Campoli vs Finger-Gunnarsson
Finger is struggling to find his game at the NHL level, but Gunnarsson has been a slightly more pleasant surprise than Matty Carkner for the Leafs. If it was still Carkner-Lee, this would be a slight win for the Leafs, but depending how well Campoli comes back from injury, this is either a Sens win or a draw. We'll call it a draw.



Powerplay: While the Sens have been ripped all year for their struggling powerplay, at 15.7%, they basically score as often on the powerplay as the Leafs at 16%. The Sens powerplay has been cold as ice the last few games, but the Leafs penalty kill doesn't provide much resistance. I'll call this one a draw.

Penalty Kill: No comparison here. One of the reasons the Senators have found themselves in the position they are in in the east is their 7th ranked 84% penalty kill, which until Saturday had killed off 24 straight. The Leafs, it is well documented, have the worst kill in the league.



Brian Elliott vs Jonas Gustavsson: Battle of two goalies who weren't expected to carry the load this year. Jonas had more hype coming in to this year, but Elliott has proven he can get wins while playing for the team. Gustavsson cannot say the same. We'll give the slight edge to the Sens.


Players to watch:

Ottawa: Jason Spezza. There was a time when he owned the Blue and White with 46 points in 40 career games, but this year he has but 1 goal and 1 assist in 5 games. After last games highlight reel goal, my eyes are going to be on our best offensive player to get us out of this slump.

Toronto: Who else? Phil Kessel has 5 goals and 1 assist against the Sens this year and 17 points in 24 career games. He's a gamebreaker, and the Sens need to figure him out!

Consensus Predictions:

I am picking with the heart on this one. Ignoring the line up on paper, the Senators have given us no reason to believe that they will win tonight. However, the last time the Toronto Maple Leafs won the season series against the Ottawa Senators was ... last year. They are on a three game winning streak against the Nations's Capital, but when is the last time the leafs have one four straight facing the Sens...2007- 2008. These stats may not be promising, but I will not be able to stand talking to leaf fans that night and the next morning who think Luca Caputi will be a thirty goal scorer. So the Senators will win. Just because they have to.

4 -2 Ottawa

The Sens have played poorly recently, and the Leafs (especially their top line) are coming together around the same time of year as they always do. I think the return of Foligno and Campoli makes this team significantly better, and Foligno will provide some spark. Also I look at Cullen-Alfie and I see some good potential. I think I just need to convince myself the boys will take this one, but thats called being a fan.

3-1 Ottawa

1 comment:

Canucnik said...

Jason scores...Kovy gets a helper..."Ells" is himself...All is well in SENS Town!

Mr. Young I like your 3-1 score!