The Maple Leafs and the Senators play the first game of the 2016-2017 NHL season. Last season, Toronto finished with the worst record in the NHL. Due to their porous record, they had the best chance of getting the number 1 pick and they did. They drafted top prospect, Auston Matthews. A young center who has quick hands, quick feet and has a great IQ. He’s a prolific goal scorer who has the potential to be a franchise player. He’s now part of the young core that the Maple Leafs are trying to build.
Mike Babcook, the 8 year 50 million dollar coach is working really hard at changing the culture of the Maple Leafs. Although, the Maple Leafs were 30th in the NHL last year, there were some noticeable changes. They seemed to have bought into Coach Babcook’s style. This is a project that will take some years, but, the good thing is we are seeing positive moves being made. This should give Maple Leaf fans some encouragement.
The Maple Leafs finished with a record of 2-4-2 in the preseason. The team had 3 straight losses to end it. Their preseason record will be indicative of how their season will go. The Maple Leafs will not finish 30th this year nor will they make the playoffs. They will be a bottom 5 team unless something miraculous happens.
The Maple Leafs will have Frederik Anderson in net for opening day. They acquired him in a trade after they let Reimer and Bernier go. He could be a game changer, if he is able to stay healthy. Offensively, they will rely on William Nylander and Nazem Kadri for goal scoring opportunities. Not the best offense in the league, but, there should be a bit of a boost with the addition of Matthews. Van Riemsdyk will be relied upon as well. Defensively, the Maple Leafs will need Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly to carry them. The Leafs won’t have a good defensive year but it’s up to Gardiner and Rielly to be key contributors into limiting goals so the offense can have a chance.
Last season, the Ottawa Senators were 5th place in the Atlantic. They just missed the playoffs despite scoring 236 goals last season. Erik Karlsson had an amazing season finishing with 82 points and being ranked 5th in the NHL in scoring.
The Senators have Craig Anderson in net for today’s home opener. Last year, he played 60 games and had 31 wins with 4 shutouts. He was top 10 in wins.
The Senators are favored to beat the Maple Leafs on their home ice. I like the Ottawa Senators to beat the Maple Leafs 4-3 in a close one.