With an exhibition schedule consisting of back-to-back games tonight and tomorrow followed by the preseason final on Saturday, for a number of players on the bubble, tonight’s game in Ottawa will be the last chance to argue. in favor of an open-night roster or leave a lasting impression with the coaching staff en route to the Marlies (7 p.m. EST, Sportsnet).
In Ho-Sang’s case, this could be his last chance to land a contract, as we can safely assume that Sheldon Keefe will want a preseason game with his full roster on Saturday. Ho-Sang’s last appearance in Ottawa included three assists, two on the power play and all goals scored by Michael Bunting, who will skate again on his line tonight with Kirill Semyonov at center.
The Leafs will save their cups for Wednesday after the end of those back-to-back games, while the Senators reduced their roster to 25 over the weekend. That means it will be a solid test for the Leafs group that made the trip as it will be an Ottawa roster loaded with regular NHL players.
Up front, Pierre Engvall will make his pre-season debut for the Leafs after sustaining a minor injury early in camp. With Nick Ritchie secured a wing spot in the top six to start, Bunting turning heads, Ilya Mikheyev ahead of Engvall on the left, and Adam Brooks, Nick Robertson, Kirill Semyonov and Michael Amadio (all playing tonight) still in the mix for the last places up front, Engvall must make up for lost time if he is to secure a place in the top 12 on opening night. For players scrambling for spots, injury setbacks at camp can be difficult to overcome once the internal competition is up to the speed of play.
In defense, Jake Muzzin and Justin Holl will return to their usual positions side by side, while Rasmus Sandin and Travis Dermott will team up. The Senators are trotting two legitimate goal lines tonight at Formenton – Norris – Batherson and Stützle – Pinto – Brown, which should give Sandin-Dermott’s likely opening night bottom pair a good test.
Match Day Quotes
Nick Robertson on his contributions to special teams:
I love the PK. I think this is one of my greatest assets. This is the way to show my tenacity. It’s sort of all settled there for the opposing team, so it’s easy for me to start and move my feet to interrupt their game.
We want to have an aggressive PK this year, and for me that’s who I am. I am aggressive. I love playing PK and I think it’s a great way to show off… I have to be versatile, whether it’s power play or PK.
Rasmus Sandin on his relationship with Timothy Liljegren:
We’re still talking to each other. We spend a lot of time together. I really like Timothy. He’s also the best kid. For me, he’s a great guy to be around all the time.
When we’re at the rink, we’re always talking about hockey. We are always talking about what we can do better. You always see things from the other guy when you’re not playing – you see what you could have done better with the puck or better without the puck.
On the ice, we try to talk as much as possible and learn from it. Outside of the rink we try to have fun, get away from hockey a bit and have fun with each other.
Sandin on Liljegren’s play at camp:
He is very sure of what he is doing. During training and during games, he looked very comfortable there. He makes great plays with the puck, and without the puck he plays hard. I think he looks really good there.
Sandin on where he wants to improve his game:
Just move the puck a little faster and do everything a little faster. You’re still a bit used to the training you do in the summer, and it’s obviously not the same pace during the game. It’s just about moving everything a little faster, getting the timing back and knowing how I make up for it. I have to play hard without the puck and keep moving the puck like I always have been, just a little faster. Everything can always be better.
Toronto Maple Leafs projected lines
# 15 Alex Kerfoot – # 64 David Kampf – # 25 Ondrej Kase
#58 Michael Bunting – #94 Kirill Semyonov – #52 Josh Ho-Sang
#89 Nick Robertson – #18 Michael Amadio – #19 Jason Spezza
#47 Pierre Engvall – #77 Adam Brooks – #24 Wayne Simmonds
# 8 Jake Muzzin – # 3 Justin Holl
# 38 Rasmus Sandin – # 23 Travis Dermott
# 48 Carl Dalhstrom – # 33 Alex court
#36 Jack Campbell
Ottawa Senators projected lines
Formenton – Norris – Batherson
Stützle – Pinto – C. Brown
Sanford – Blanc – Ennis
Paul – Agozzino – Watson
Chabot – Zub
Del Zotto – Holden
Mete – J. Brown