Maple Leafs-Senators: Toronto Ready to Crush Ottawa

Graeme BoyceCorrespondent IOctober 25, 2008

Having turned the corner against the Ducks, and reinforcing that message against the Bruins with a sound come-from-behind victory—the likes of which we haven't seen in a few years—the Leafs are ready to take apart the Sens defense tonight. 

The game will set the stage, so to speak, and determine how vicious the Battle of Ontario will be this season.

Although Blake was sitting (uncomfortably) in the press box last game, offering up a valuable seat on the bench for Hollweg, I predict a Blake comeback and the game of his life—something to the effect of a hat-trick.  It's about luck and timing, but Blake is feisty and he knows what he can deliver against Jason Smith and Luke Richardson.

On paper, the Sens look impressive.  But they remind me of the Leafs of past years—an aging team built in response to the demands of local media personalities.  They are struggling early—oh well—and they lost last the Ducks.

As opposed to our team, the Sens did not turn a corner.  It'll be interesting to see who starts in between their pipes.

The Leafs are enjoying some fine goal-scoring support from the blue line these days, and some toughness—but not stupidity.  When Finger comes back—possibly tonight—it'll certainly be a tough decision for Coach Wilson to make with respect to who to send into the press box— Stralman, Schenn, or Frogren?  At this juncture, it seems unlikely either Kubina or Van Ryn will be asked to sit.

On the front line, we need more finish around the opposing net, specifically from Kulemin, Steen, and Mitchell, who are all playing well.  Nonetheless, the fellas who need to step up are Mayers, Hagman, and Ponikarovsky.  I think it is the latter who is destined for the press box, frankly.  Expect scoring punches tonight from Moore, Tlusty and Grabovski.

The best for last—Stajan.  What a thunderous hit he took.  Talk about shaking off the cobwebs—and in a timely fashion, with Halloween around the corner. 

Leafs management is sticking to their guns.  I've really liked Stajan since Day One, but now he's stepping up to the plate, and beginning to play like a crafty veteran.

He can take a hit, and he's got a great shot, and he's great along the boards.  His defensive play is nothing to sneeze at, so I think he'll come out of his goal-scoring slump with a big game alongside a re-focused Blake tonight.

And in the process, he'll silence and put in their place those other noted players who in years gone by have enjoyed playing against the Leafs, especially in Toronto: Heatly, Alfredsson, and Neil—hopefully we'll see Hollweg knock him out.