Senators-Maple Leafs Preview
The Toronto Maple Leafs have started their season in impressive fashion with two road victories, but their coach wants continued improvement.
Given their recent history with the Ottawa Senators, they figure to have a good chance to move to 3-0 for the third time in four years Saturday night when they host Ottawa in their home opener.
Toronto (2-0-0) has started with 4-3 and 3-1 wins at Montreal and Philadelphia, respectively. The Maple Leafs began 3-0-0 in 2011-12 and 4-0-0 in 2010-11 - but ended up missing the playoffs both years.
"I like when we win," coach Randy Carlyle said. "We're not going to criticize our group because we've done some good things. But we still have a lot of work ahead of us. By no means are we happy."
Dave Bolland, acquired in a trade with Chicago in exchange for three draft picks, tallied his first two goals as a Leaf in Wednesday's 3-1 win over the Flyers.
"You always wait for that first goal to come," Bolland said. "It's nice that both of them came tonight."
Phil Kessel also found the back of the net a day after signing an eight-year extension worth $64 million.
Toronto has won six of its last seven over Ottawa behind 10 points from Kessel, who has 17 over the last 12 matchups.
The Senators (1-0-0) could find it difficult to score if James Reimer gets the call in net for the Maple Leafs. Reimer is 8-1-1 with three shutouts and a 1.69 goals-against average in 10 career starts versus Ottawa. Reimer stopped 34 shots in the club's season-opening win over the Canadiens on Tuesday, while Jonathan Bernier recorded 31 saves on Wednesday in his first game with the Maple Leafs.
Bernier has never faced the Senators.
Ottawa (1-0-0) started its six-game season-opening trip with a 1-0 win at Buffalo on Friday. Erik Karlsson scored with 1:35 remaining on an assist from Clarke MacArthur, a two-time 20-goal scorer for the Maple Leafs who left for Ottawa via free agency in the offseason, and Craig Anderson made 35 saves for his 23rd career shutout.
"Now we have that under our belt," coach Paul MacLean said. "We were excited about going into tonight. I think we're even more excited now that we got started."
Jason Spezza, who was limited to five games last season due to injuries, recorded seven shots in his first game replacing Daniel Alfredsson - now with Detroit - as the club's captain.
Toronto will likely be without defenseman Mark Fraser after placing him on long-term injured reserve due to a lower-body injury suffered against Philadelphia.
Fraser led Toronto with a plus-18 rating last season, though his absence creates an opportunity for 2012 first-round pick Morgan Rielly to make his debut.
"He's a talented young hockey player," Carlyle said of the 19-year-old. "Don't get caught up in the moment too much about it being this game or that game ... He's played in pressure situations, but it's always special when you play your first game in the NHL."
Nazem Kadri tallied his second career hat trick along with an assist in a 4-0 win at Ottawa last season.
Toronto has scored on eight of 23 power-play opportunities (34.8 percent) over the last seven meetings while Ottawa is 0 for 19.