Leafs look to continue recent success at Scotiabank Place

The Toronto Maple Leafs are back in town and they’re hoping to continue their recent run of dominance at Scotiabank Place.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are back in town and they’re hoping to continue their recent run of dominance at Scotiabank Place.

Fresh off a 3-1 win over the Lindy Ruff-less Buffalo Sabres, the Leafs come into the day tied with the Ottawa Senators at 22 points apiece in the NHL’s ultra competitive Eastern Conference.

Both teams trail the surprise conference-leading Montreal Canadiens by just two points.

“You have to be ready to play every night in these kinds of games no matter what the standings are,” said James Van Riemsdyk, who has scored three goals in the last two games. “It should be a fun game.”

Dating back to last February, the Leafs have won each of their previous three meetings against the Senators, outscoring them 11-1 in the process.

They’ve also won four of their last five visits to Ottawa.

“We all try to play our best every night wherever we are,” said Tyler Bozak, who has 10 points in his last 10 games against the Senators. “Maybe just been lucky enough to get more wins here than other places. But we’re going to come out and take the same approach to every game.”

Ben Scrivens, who took over Leafs’ crease after James Reimer suffered a knee injury Feb. 11, will make his career-high sixth straight start.

The 26-year-old Spruce Grove, Alta. native turned away all 34 shots he faced in a 3-0 win over the Senators a week ago today.

“What happened last game is irrelevant,” Scrivens said. “They’re a solid team. “They’ve got a lot of offensive players and skilled guys and they can put the puck in the net. What happened last week was obviously a great feeling for me but it’s behind me and it’s behind the team. We’re expecting an extremely tough challenge from these guys.”

Scrivens will be facing a depleted Senators lineup, but as head coach Randy Carlyle pointed out, the Leafs aren’t without their own injuries. In addition to Reimer, Joffrey Lupul, Matt Frattin and Colton Orr are also on the shelf.

“We have our share too,” Carlyle said. “We just haven’t made as big a splash about our injuries, I guess.”

Unlike the Senators, who seem to have a new hero emerge every game in the absence Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza, and Milan Michalek, it’s the Maple Leafs’ core that is getting the job done.

Van Riemsdyk, who was acquired in off-season in a deal for Luke Schenn, is getting most of the attention – and it is well deserved. His 11 goals are just one behind the league lead, currently shared by Thomas Vanek and James Neal.

Defenceman Dion Phaneuf is also slowly starting to turn things around. As the team’s highest-paid player and captain, Phaneuf is always under the microscope in Toronto and he rarely lives up to the lofty expectations.

But after an abysmal start to the 2012-13 campaign, in which he found the scoresheet just once in his first 11 games, Phaneuf has quietly put up eight points in his last seven with a +1 rating over the same period.

The Leafs did not skate at Scotiabank Place this morning. Instead, they were on the ice for about 35 minutes at the Carleton University Ice House – a somewhat unusual occurrence for visiting teams on game day.

Tonight’s contest will mark the second of five meetings between the Ontario foes this season.

fdevji@ottawacitizen.com
twitter.com/farhandevji

Tags: ,

What do you think? Leave a comment