The Battle of Ontario!!
2 HTR members give us their opinion and make predictions for the ”Battle of Ontario”
TheCoach VS GaryRoberts7
Who do you think is right?TheCoach
Once again, the Battle of Ontario will be reignited in the first round of this year’s playoffs. The Leafs and Senators have arguably the best rivalry in the NHL, and that will translate into a fantastic 7 games. Who do you think will prevail this time?
The rivalry is one filled with a tremendous amount of hatred, towards hockey teams, cities and fans. The people of Ottawa not only hate the Leafs hockey team, but they hate their fans and the entire city of Toronto. Leaf fans not only hate the Sens, but they also hate everything associated with them. It comes as no surprise that nobody in Toronto purchases Trojan condoms anymore. But this is not an article about condoms, it is about a terrific playoff series that we will all have the priviledge of witnessing. It shall be fun.
Neither of the teams are going into the playoffs playing very consistant hockey. They have both had bad efforts and results in the past couple of weeks, but this is most likely because both teams were playing out the stretch and just waiting for the playoffs to begin. Going by interviews that we have heard from players of both clubs, it seems that these guys didn’t really care where they finished. They both are experienced teams and know that the playoffs are a whole new season. It really doesn’t matter whether you’re in 7th or 2nd, especially in the Eastern Conference this year.
The Ottawa Senators are an extremely skilled team. They are arguably the fastest and most gifted team in the NHL. Also, they are no longer a team that can be pushed around. They may not have many heavyweights, but they have team toughness. They can crash and bang with the big boys, as they showed in last year’s Philadelphia series. Goaltending is still a little issue, but it seems like it has been taken care of. Lalime has returned to playoff form during the Sens 6 game road trip, and Prusek has become a very capable back-up. Patrick Lalime is also expected to return for game 1. The Senators are expected to be fully healthy, as Varada, Volchenkov and White have returned. Jason Spezza and Peter Bondra should be in the line-up on Wednesday or Thursday as well.
Here is the roster for the Sens. These may not be the line combinations that Jacques Martin uses, but this is what the team may look like.
Bondra – White – Alfredsson
Varada – Bonk – Hossa
Smolinski – Spezza – Havlat
Schaefer – Fisher – Neil
Langfeld – Van Allen – Vermette
Redden – de Vries
Chara – Phillips
Volchenkov – Pothier
Leschychyn – Simpson
That is a very impressive line-up. Every line could be the first line. Terrific depth.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are no longer the toughest and grittiest team in the league. Don’t get me wrong, they still have players that bring that element, but they have turned into a more skilled team. They have replaced guys like Green, Corson and Svehla with the likes of Francis, Reichel, Renberg and Leetch. They are no longer just able to hit you, but they can now score on you. The forward position is good with quite a bit of depth and scoring touch, and the often criticized defense is very steady. It was drastically improved with the acquisition of Leetch. However, this teams strongest aspect is their goaltending. Eddie Belfour is a proven goaltender who stands on his head nearly every night. It appears as though his back is strong and he should remain healthy. He is the key in the Leafs’ hunt for the Cup. He must remain healthy of the Leafs plan on going anywhere. Unfortunately, the loss of Owen Nolan will hurt the Leafs but luckily Tucker and Klee look like they will return for game 1. However, injuries are always an issue with the Leafs as they are one of the oldest teams in the league and they play an in your face type of game. I think that this year the Leafs will rely on their skill and not their physical play.
Here is what their line-up might look like:
Roberts – Sundin – Mogilny
Antropov – Nieuwendyk – Ponikarovsky
Tucker – Francis – Renberg
Fitzgerald – Reichel – Domi
Kilger – Stajan – Belak
Leetch – McCabe
Kaberle – Klee
Johansson – Marchment
Berg – Pilar
Both teams look strong, however I think the Sens will prevail simply because they have more depth and are more skilled. Lalime has always raised his level of play in the playoffs, and the Sens can now also compete physically. I don’t want anyone going back 2, 3 or 4 years and basing their prediction on that, because these are 2 very different teams.
Prediction: Ottawa in 6
What do you think?
With Boston clinching the Northeast Division Sunday afternoon with a 3-1 win over New Jersey, it is now official that the Toronto-Ottawa series is back and better than ever!
I have never been this hyped for the playoffs since……well, ever! These teams look so equally matched that it could easily go down to a game 7 overtime. With all the excitement let’s take a look at the ups and downs for both teams.
Owen Nolan is out 3 weeks with damaged knee ligaments and definitely won’t be back in the first round which is a major dissapointment for the Leafs. Also Tie Domi has a bruised left hand and might be unable to fight and that is the reason he backed away from Neil, but it looks like he should be alright. As for Darcy Tucker and Ken Klee, they should be ready, come playoff time. The problem for Toronto right now is Wade Belak is suspended for the first two games, and if Domi doesn’t recover from his bruised hand the Leafs are without their top two fighters.
Have just come off a 6-0 blowout over the Senators and a 2-0 win over the Sabres to give Belfour two shutouts in a row. They are also 4-0-1 since their abysmal 7-2 loss to Tampa, and leaving on a high note with a great win away from home.
The Leafs also have home advantage which will definitely help them, and they have a really deep bench incase of injuries.
Jason Spezza is nursing a day to day injury and does not know when he’ll return, while there is no news on Bondra, on whether he’ll play game one after leaving last night’s game with what looked like a knee injury and did not return. Coming off a 6-0 loss at home is not very good when you’re going to be playing that same team that just creamed you in the playoffs.
Patrik Lalime will be suited up in game one after a minor injury. With the Leafs top two fighters possibly not being able to fight, this might help Ottawa to play an agressive checking style game and get away with it.
Well that’s it, and I’ll take Toronto in 7 for the series.