Senators-Maple Leafs Preview

While currently not part of the playoff picture in the Eastern

Conference, the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs have taken

on a new look recently.

Craig Anderson could make his debut in goal for the visiting

Senators as they try to prevent the Maple Leafs from a third

straight victory Saturday night.

Toronto (25-27-6) is 11th in the East and eight points out of

the final playoff spot. That’s apparently been enough reason for

general manager Brian Burke to deal veteran defensemen Francois

Beauchemin and Tomas Kaberle, and forward Kris Versteeg since Feb.

9.

With a conference-worst 45 points, it’s also understandable why

Ottawa (18-31-9) has traded forwards Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly,

Jarkko Ruutu and most recently struggling goaltender Brian Elliott

since Feb. 10.

“We expected (changes) a little bit but I don’t think we

expected anything to happen this quick,” forward Jason Spezza told

the Senators’ official website. “We’ve put ourselves in a situation

where we have to deal with it.”

The Senators sent Elliott to Colorado on Friday for Anderson,

13-15-3 with a 3.28 goals-against average one season after posting

a career-high 36 wins to help lead the Avalanche to the

playoffs.

“For whatever reasons, things weren’t working out quite the same

this year,” Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. “Craig gets a fresh

start there.”

An unrestricted free agent after this season, Anderson can use

the stretch run as an audition for a possible future with the

Senators.

“The good thing about this is that we get a chance, for (24)

games, to look at and watch (Anderson),” Ottawa general manager

Bryan Murray said. “During that time period, I would think that

we’ll have discussions and we’ll see where we want to be and he

wants to be.”

Murray on Saturday could get his first look at Anderson, who has

lost five in a row overall, but is 3-1-0 with a 1.98 GAA versus

Toronto.

Anderson’s new club looks to avoid a third straight defeat after

falling 4-2 to Boston on Friday.

Though the Senators have lost 18 of 20 overall, they’ve split

four meetings with the Maple Leafs in 2010-11.

Phil Kessel, an All-Star for Toronto, has a goal with three

assists versus Ottawa this season, and three goals in the last two

games overall.

He opened the scoring in Wednesday’s 2-1 victory at Buffalo to

help the Maple Leafs improve to 6-2-1 this month.

“We’ve got a solid work ethic through our team right now, a lot

of young legs out there and a lot of enthusiasm,” coach Ron Wilson

told the Maple Leafs’ official website. “And it shows.”

Saturday’s contest will be the Maple Leafs’ first after dealing

Kaberle to Boston for highly-touted prospect Joe Colborne on

Friday. The 32-year-old Kaberle had spent his entire career with

Toronto, and was the only player remaining from the team’s last

playoff season in 2004.

Toronto rookie James Reimer could start after stopping 14 of 15

shots Wednesday in relief of Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who left with

a lower-body injury.

In his first NHL start, Reimer made 32 saves for his first

career victory in a 5-1 win at Ottawa on New Year’s Day.