Leafs must seiz the Oppurtunity
The Toronto Maple Leafs go into tonights game knowing they are in 11th, they’re only a point back from nineth, and they’ve got a game in hand on the teams in 9th and 10th, but 5 points back of Montreal, who has a game in hand. My belief, tonights game will be great. There is no rivalry like the Leafs and Senators, they seem to like eachother off the ice (Alfie and Sundin at least) but they step on the ice and they are dreaded enemies. These games bring out fighting, hitting, and all the things that made the old NHL great, these teams know how to entertain the crowd.
Most Leaf-Sens are very entertaining nail biters, they were the first 2 shootouts ever, they were an exciting game on election night, and then it was fun to watch the Leafs get blown out 7-1, 8-0, and 8-2 a few nights… These teams don’t shy away from trying to embarass the other.
The Leafs are a streaky team, they lose one, and well… they’re here, they win won, and as we saw earlier in the year, they can go on a lengthy win streak (well… 6 games… eh). Now going into the last stretch of the regular seasn, the Leafs must win this game. And they have a chance because a key reason for their close losses (the blowouts they just dind’t show up for) was Domonik Hasek, and with Ray Emery in net tonight (last time we played vs Emery is was 6-0 in April 2004, granted Prusek let in the first 2 goals) we have a much better shot at this game.
The keys to this game?
The Leafs may not be a faster team then the Sens, but strength wise, the only Sens who could really take on most of the guys on the Leafs are Chris Niel, Zdeno Chara, and Brian McGratton. The Leafs need to beat down the Sens. Domi, put your boxing gloves on. Wilm, you can be a goon, not a penalty killer tonight. Tucker, and Lindros, keep doing what your doing, and O’neill, your shoulder can’t be blown out THAT much. Mats Sundin had a great game physically last night.
Another key to the game, match the best versus the best. The Sens best three forwards are Alfredsson, Heatley, and Spezza, and they’re played on the first line. Get Lindros and Sundin with either Tucker or O’neill. They can produce. Tucker and O’neill both good cherry pickers, can score the garbage goals. Sundin and Lindros had a great shift together when they were together.
They need to outshoot the Sens. The Leafs have some guys with nice shots, but they are too reluctant to shoot. Make Emery tired, young goalies aren’t used to playing this much. Get O’neill and Tucker on the ice more, they shoot alot. You just gotta shoot as much as you can.
And while the Sens may be a better team, the Leafs can win by being a smarter team. The Leafs biggest problem this year is turnovers. Trying to pass through centre ice. Guys, they teach you this in minor hockey. It doesn’t work, hit it up the boards. Allison and McCabe are the worst for that kind of bull shit.
To make this a very competitive game, this is what I think the lines for both teams should be tonight.
Sit Wellwood, not big enough to play in a game like this. They need Czerkawski’s speed. They need Domi, Wilm, Stajan and Kilger hitting. Stajan took a few runs at Chara last game. It sounded like that Tub Thumper song “I get knocked down, but I get up again, your never gonna see me down”. Stajan kept getting his ass kicked, and he kept getting back up and hitting Chara.
On the Sens side…
I don’t know how close this is to their ussual line up, but I know the first two forward lines are just about what it is ussually. Which makes me wonder where Havlat will fit in when he comes back.
I may have got a few things on the Sens side wrong, I’m not really someone who follows the Sens, but this is along the lines of what I’d like to see. This game should be physical. The Leafs need to play like it’s 1955 if they wanna win this. They gotta hit, shoot, and keep the game simple. Don’t let the Sens pull any fancy shit, and don’t be afraid to get dirty, it’ll frustrate the Sens, and they’ll take retaliation penalties.
Just the ramblings of a desperate Leaf fan…