Tonight is the first of three pre-season match-ups for the "Battle of Ontario", and perhaps for the first time since the pre-lockout era, the games could live up to that title.
Leafs fans will be happy to know that almost all of their new additions will make their way on the ice tonight. Only recently signed free agent forward Clarke MacArthur will sit out tonight's game, but is expected to suit up tomorrow night.
Filip Kuba's injury is still providing much of the talk in Ottawa, but it does provide an opportunity for sophmore defenceman Erik Karlsson to step up as he has been paired with veteran Chris Phillips today in practice.
Senators rookie goaltender Robin Lehner will play all of tonight's game against the Leafs. The large-framed 6'3", 220lbs netminder will stand opposite sophmore Jonas "The Monster" Gustavsson, and rookie Jussi Rynnas, who are expected to split duties tonight with Gustavsson getting the start. Lehner posted 5 shutouts in 47 games in the OHL last season with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
The physical play will be the primary aspect of both team's first pre-season game. Most notably for the Leafs, their fourth line of (shhould I say grinders?) will be more than a fair dose of truculence as Christian Hanson centers Jay Rosehill and newcomer Mike Brown.
On the Senators' side, Zach Smith, Chris Neil and Tim Spencer will be well aware of who is on the ice at all times and will not hesitate to throw the gloves when (I say when, not if) the time comes. With Tim Spencer the more intimidating of the three at 6'4" and 240lbs, it will be interesting to see which Leaf, if any, would be willing to square off with this enforcer.
Tonight's game will be aired on Sportsnet Ontario. I'll be shocked if the hits totals are not higher than the shot count.
The Senators have not release their lines as of yet, but here are the players who will be involved:
Butler, Foligno, Hoffman, Keller, Kelly, Locke, Neil, Shannon, Zack Smith, Spencer, Wick, Winchester.
Benoit, Campoli, Carkner, Cowen, Hale, Lee.
Armstrong - Kadri - Versteeg
Mueller - Irwin - D'Amigo
Crabb - Zigomanis - Hamilton
Rosehill - Hanson - Brown
Gunnarsson - Phaneuf
Lebda - Kaberle
Gysbers - Lashoff
For more articles by Micheal Aldred, visit http://www.thecheckingline.com