The Leafs enter tonight’s contest with the Sens after a strong 2-0 shutout win over the Montreal Canadiens. The Sens however, come in the game with optimism after a decent showing by several young talents in a 5-3 loss to a veteran Detroit team Friday night.
Leafs Players to Watch:
James Reimer: A shaky preseason had many doubting the Leafs’ stability in-goal. But a 32 save shutout silenced the critics as Reimer seemed to return to his more than stellar self last year. This marks the first time since 2002 the Leafs opened the season with a shutout. Interesting to see how Reimer responds after such a great performance Thursday night.
Mikhail Grabovski: After a great display during preseason, the Belarusian center created several quality opportunities on Thursday, including a pass that led to a shot that hit the crossbar by Nikolai Kulemin. Keep an eye on Grabovski, to see if he’s able to replicate his success from last season.
Phil Kessel: Phil “the thrill” Kessel hasn’t been much of a thrill after an awful showing in preseason. Supposedly the Leafs deadliest weapon, Kessel just hasn’t looked as cerebral as he needs to be. However, Kessel is known as a streaky scorer, so the offense will come sooner or later, the only question now, is when.
Senators Players to Watch:
Nikita Filatov: Probably the steal of the summer next to Tomas Vokoun’s contract, Filatov, a former 6th overall pick, has an amazing skill set that’s been compared to that of Pavel Datsyuk, not bad as an acquisition for a 3rd round pick. Playing on the top line with Jason Spezza, Filatov will have plenty of opportunities, it’s up to him to put his game together and seize the opportunity.
Jason Spezza: The Senators’ best player will have to be their best player night in, night out for the Sens to have any type of success. Game 1 of 82 saw Spezza dish the puck for two easy goals by Michalek. Spezza has always been known as a extremely talented player, but like many others, consistency is the question now that Spezza is entering his 7th NHL season.
Sergei Gonchar: The offensive defenseman signed to a three year contract valued at $5.5 per season, has been a disappointment in the nation’s capital. Scoring only 27 points after a 50 points campaign the year before. Can Gonchar regain his status as a premier defenseman? Or will he become another overpaid defenseman?