Toronto comes in with a 1-0-0 record after opening the season with a win on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Thursday’s contest will mark Ottawa’s season-opener and first home game of the regular season.
Can Ottawa open the season with a win at home over the Maple Leafs on Thursday evening?
Marner notches an assist in win for TorontoToronto escaped with a 2-1 win at home against the Montreal Canadiens on opening night on Wednesday. William Nylander picked up where he left off last season, scoring the first goal of the year for Toronto while Pierre Engvall netted the first power-play goal of the season for Toronto, which survived a Canadiens rally for its first win of the season.
The Maple Leafs played the first game of the season without star Auston Matthews, who underwent wrist surgery to fix a flare-up that occurred during offseason training. However, Toronto was able to get back linemate Mitch Marner, who suffered a scare during a collision in practice on Tuesday. Marner finished with an assist in Wednesday’s win over Montreal.
Newly acquired goaltender Petr Mrazek will make his Maple Leafs’ regular-season debut on Thursday night against Ottawa. Mrazek is coming off of an injury-riddled 6-2-3 campaign in which he posted a strong 2.06 GAA and .923 save percentage in that small sample size.
The 29-year-old has quietly emerged as one of the most improved goaltenders in recent seasons. Over the last three years, he owns a 50-32-5 regular-season record with 10 shutouts during that span. Mrazek has made 10 career starts versus the Senators, going 7-12 with a 2.44 GAA and .920 save percentage in those contests.
Senators preparing to open regular season without TkachukThe Senators looked like a young team that was learning how to win games last season and it did just that down that stretch, going 7-2-1 over its final 10 games.
The most pressing thing for Ottawa heading into the season remains the status of the team’s most talented forward, Brady Tkachuk, who remains unsigned. While Ottawa's top six should still be able to produce without Tkachuk, the bottom six and defense could be cause for concern. Sophomore Tim Stutzle is expected to appear on the top line in Tkachuk’s absence after he scored 12 goals and finished with 29 points as a rookie.
Ottawa was hoping to have starting goaltender Matt Murray between the pipes for its first game of the season on Thursday. However, that might not be the case, as Murray appears to be battling a non-COVID-19 related illness and is feeling less than 100 percent. With Murray’s status up in the air, Anton Forsberg could get the start. Forsberg finished 3-4-1 with a 3.21 GAA and .909 save percentage in eight starts last season. However, he was 0-1-1 with a 3.90 GAA in two games against Toronto last year.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Toronto enters the season shorthanded but it managed to get the job done against the Canadiens on Wednesday night. However, the Senators have played Toronto tough in the past. Ottawa went 4-4-1 against the Leafs last season and could be even better in 2021 if it finds a way to improve on the power play, where it ranked 26th in the NHL a year ago. With Toronto playing this game on the second night of a back-to-back, take Ottawa to come out on top in this Atlantic Division showdown on Thursday.
Full-Game Total Pick
These two teams are projected for 6.5 goals but that number seems to be set a little too high in this spot. Toronto is still missing forward Auston Matthews and is scoring off of scoring just two goals in its previous game. Mrazek will be making his Maple Leafs’ debut on Thursday. The veteran has dominated the Senators throughout his career and should be in for another strong performance in this spot. Take this game to go under the projected total on Thursday.