Toronto Maple Leafs (38-35-8) at Ottawa Senators (35-31-14)
|Date & Time||Saturday April 12, 2014, 7:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Ottawa Senators -138 / Toronto Maple Leafs +125 --- Over/Under: 5.5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
As long as you're not a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs it's always entertaining every year to see how this organization is going to screw things up. There's always something that seems to go wrong and this year was no different in Toronto. The Maple Leafs squandered what appeared to be an insurmountable lead for a playoff spot by going on a lengthy losing streak and never recovering. They went from looking like a team that could make some legitimate noise and put a scare into someone in the post season to becoming just an all out disaster on the ice. There two wins at the beginning of the month kept their hopes alive slightly, but since then they've been eliminated while losing three straight. Now they turn the National Hockey League and bring in Brendan Shanahan to be their president of hockey operations in hopes that someone with absolutely no experience running a franchise can turn things around for them. It's another odd move for a franchise that just seems to floundering in the abyss of the hockey world. Last year they were so close to completing a huge upset of the rival Boston Bruins before collapsing in the third period of Game 7. This season it's right back to disappointing before they ever even reach the second season. Randy Carlyle's job is certainly in jeopardy as this hockey club plays absolutely no defense. Watching a Maple Leafs game almost looks like watching a beer league game. Their opponent on Saturday night doens't play much defense either, but they certainly can give a team like Toronto fits in the defensive zone. This could be a game with a lot of scoring chances given up by both clubs and a night where you'd rather not be a goaltender on either end.
As bad as the season has been in Toronto it has been equally disappointing for the Ottawa Senators. Paul MacLean has gone from the toast of the town in the capital city to hearing whispers that his job could be in jeopardy as well. MacLean wouldn't last long on the open market and the Senators would be foolish to let him go despite how poorly his team has played this year. Watching Ottawa this year they actually look a lot like Toronto in the fact that they generate a ton of scoring chances and really play a strong game in the offensive zone. Their problem is that they're a disaster in their own end and allow far too many quality scoring chances to win hockey games. Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner haven't had great seasons but it's hard to expect much from your goaltenders when they're seeing double digit chances from point blank range on a nightly basis. Erik Karlsson might be the best in the world on the back end at generating offense, but they need him to lead by example in the defensive zone first and get others to follow. Injuries haven't helped either and don't be surprised if this club really turns it around and rebounds next season. There is talent here and the mistakes are correctable moving forward. The Senators have actually played some pretty good hockey lately but it came after they already put themselves out of reach. Ottawa has won three in a row and six of their last eight games. This should be a fun one on Saturday night despite both teams being out of the race. Expect to see some fast and loose hockey with a lot of scoring chances.