Toronto Maple Leafs @ Ottawa Senators
02:00 PM at Canadian Tire Centre
Watch on: SN1
Welcome to the 2023-2024 season everyone. Today is an historic occasion, the first game the Ottawa Senators play under their new ownership. For them, it's a time of great hope for the future after a long time in the grim darkness of an era where they only pretended to be an NHL team. It's good for the league to have all teams acting as teams rather than vehicles for accessing cheap debt, but we still hate them, of course.
For the Leafs, this is just business as usual. Getting dragged into the Ottawa rink for some special game because of proximity. Well, you have to play someone in preseason, why not the Sens?
Game one is not where you want to make lasting judgements of players or take the lines too seriously. Both teams play tomorrow – each other, of course – so the lineups will be split to accommodate that.
For today's game, the Leafs will be facing Anton Forsberg in net. It seems likely that the Senators will play one goalie for the whole game today, making it more like a real contest than these things often are.
So far, the Leafs have practiced the wrong things with the wrong people in the wrong way and it's all a disaster, so a normal preseason. In order of importance the Leafs need to:
- integrate Tyler Bertuzzi into the top line
- figure out how to play John Klingberg with Jake McCabe so the Rielly-Brodie pair does not need to be split up
- find a role for Max Domi where his skewed skillset can do more good than harm (also true for Rielly and Klingberg)
- assess how high up the lineup Matt Knies can play now, and how fast he's going to progress
- buncha other stuff about playing Nylander at centre for a while and having Matthews play PK
Yesterday's practice split the roster into a mostly real NHL team and one that was everyone not needed on special teams' work. Today's Ottawa squad looks mostly like group 2:
Lines guessed from available information:
Max Domi - William Nylander -
Calle Järnkrok A Guy!
Matthew Knies - Fraser Minten -
Easton Cowan A Guy!
Roni Hirvonen - Dylan Gambrell - Alex Steeves
Kyle Clifford - Sam Lafferty - Max Ellis
Morgan Rielly - Timothy Liljegren
William Lagesson - Conor Timmins
Max Lajoie - Tommy Miller/William Villeneuve
Well, that sure is a preseason lineup, and I struggled a lot with the forwards. I'm also reasonably sure I got the required eight veterans (you should not be sure I even got the right guys, clearly).
The Leafs might choose to have Cowan (counts as a veteran so is in for sure) centre his own line or play at wing – he did both at Traverse City.
Okay, clearly the bleary picture the Leafs produced led me astray. Why did I see Cowan? Hope, that's why. And hope is dangerous.
Minten will, therefore, get to centre a line – maybe with Knies, maybe some guy like Clifford.
Is it really a game, though? Each team has a legitimate top line – the Sens have their real one, the Leafs have a fake. Both teams have a legitimate top pair – the Leafs not quite their real one. The rest is just some guys and a pair of AHL goalies.
Things of interest to me: Fraser Minten! I have a mild amount of interest to see what Lagesson is like, but that's it.
Go Leafs Go!
Procedural note: Since this is an afternoon game on a Sunday, this preview will act as your GDT as well.
Also, when we have real lines, we'll post them here.
Per the broadcast: