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The Ottawa Senators will be hoping that their new-look side has gelled enough under new coach D.J. Smith during the pre-season to pull off an upset against Toronto Maple Leafs when the two sides meet at the Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday in the 2019-20 NHL season opener.
The Senators are in some dire need of positivity this season after the disappointments of the last campaign when they finished dead last in the Eastern Conference.
Smith and his charges have put in a lot of work during the off-season — at least that’s what they claim — and are now excited to finally test how far they have come.
Against Toronto, in the Battle of Ontario, they have just the right guy to plot their opponents’ downfall. Coach Smith was an assistant coach with the Maple Leafs for four years before switching allegiance in May this year.
The Senators’ hope for a change in fortunes this year stems partly from Smith’s appointment but it also owes to the fact that their roster has undergone a massive overhaul. As many as 12 players on their current roster were not with them same time last year. Thus, the renewed hope.
This side’s main problem last season was their defensive frailty. Their goal was breached an eye-watering 302 times last season so naturally Smith and co’s main focus over the past few months has been on fixing the leak at the back.
It goes without saying that Ottawa are not expected to be contenders for anything this year. Their process will take time. However, their blend of youth and experience under Smith’s leadership may just make them far more competitive than what they were in the last two seasons.
In the Leafs they face a highly potent offence that struck 286 goals during the regular season last year. Alternate captain Mark Borowiecki went as far as saying this week that the Leafs’ “high-end natural ability” is second only to Tampa’s in the entire NHL.
“They’ve got a lot of guns up front. If you try to get into an up and down game with them they’re going to torture you for sure so we’ve got to play our game and make them adjust to that,” he added.
The message is loud and clear, and astute too: do not engage Toronto in the style they’re comfortable in. Do not dance to their tune. Stick to the game plan, which for now revolves around robust defending.
Senators vs Maple Leafs Betting Prediction:
We trust the process and everything but it’s just way too early for the Senators to go into Maple Leafs territory and pull off an upset win.
The play here is to back Toronto -1.5 goals via PlaySugarHouse.
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