Ottawa Senators at Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 2, 2010

It was a case of two steps forward and one big step back for the Ottawa Senators last week.

Ottawa Senators at Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 2, 2010

THE STORY: It was a case of two steps forward and one big step back for the Ottawa Senators last week. After winning two games they should have (against Phoenix and Florida), they were outclassed by a Boston Bruins team that’s looking more and more like a Stanley Cup contender every day. Now they have to go into a hostile environment and try to knock off a Maple Leafs squad that has beaten them five times in a row.

THE WILDCARD: Phil Kessel. The Toronto sniper has feasted on the Senators throughout his career, posting 14 goals in 26 games. That includes a two point night on Oct. 9, when the Leafs completely embarrassed the Senators in a  5-1 whipping. If Kessel is on, the Buds will be walking away with two points Tuesday night.

THE OPPONENT: That said, the Leafs aren’t exactly tearing it up right now. They’ve been shut out in two straight games (by the Rangers and, like Ottawa, the Bruins) and are 1-5 in their last six games. All the Stanley Cup parade talk that came with a 4-0 start has quietly drifted away and hard questions are being asked about the state of this forward corps. Expect the Ron Wilson Sarcasm Meter to hit about an 8.7 this week if things don’t turn around right quick.

THE QUOTE: “They always play us tough…we’re so much better when we play with a lead. We’ve got to get in there and have a good first period and get rolling. That’s kind of the key to our game early on.” – Senators centre Mike Fisher on what the Senators need to do to leave T.O. with the W. The Senators are 1-6-1 when giving up the first goal this season.

THE SICK BAY: Senators — D Filip Kuba (broken leg, three weeks), G Pascal Leclaire (groin, probable), LW Milan Michalek (knee, out one week), RW Daniel Alfredsson (lower body, probable). Leafs — W Colby Armstrong (finger surgery, 4-6 weeks).

THE PREDICTION: There was a time when the Senators could count on two points any time they faced the Maple Leafs. Now the opposite is true. For some reason, Toronto has had the upper hand the last little while. Actually, I know the reason. His name is Phil Kessel. Senators 2, Leafs 3. See who the rest of our prediction panel likes in this one.

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