Preview and GDT: Senators at Maple Leafs (7 p.m., CBC)


Team Records: Leafs – 2-0-0 vs. Senators – 1-0-0
2012-13 Season Series: 4-1 Leafs
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Morgan Rielly makes his regular season debut in the Leafs home opener, while James Reimer looks to continue his dominance over the Leafs‘ provincial rival in the first edition of the 2013-14 of the Battle of Ontario season series.

The Leafs went 4-1 against the Senators in the 2012-13 season series. Anderson, who was out of worldly for the Sens last season, was pretty easily solved by the Leafs in their two encounters, posting a .880 save percentage in two losses.

With a healthy Karlsson, Spezza and Michalek, and the new additions of Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur, the Senators may present more of a challenge this season.

Morgan Rielly debuts

Jay Rosehill has claimed another Leaf victim, as Mark Fraser has been placed on the long-term injury reserve with a knee injury after sustaining a late hit from Rosehill on Wednesday. Fraser is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

Toronto may miss the element Fraser brings to the back end. While his lack of foot speed gets him into trouble at times, he is a big asset on the penalty kill, clears the net better than any other Leaf defender, is positionally sound, and usually makes a safe first pass.

Rielly obviously won’t be replacing the black and blue defence role Fraser filled for this team. Instead, he’ll add even more mobility and puck-moving ability to the blue line. It doesn’t appear to be the sturdiest group in its own end – this defence’s best defence may be its offence and ability to move the puck effectively.

Carlyle’s message for Rielly in yesterday’s media scrum: “just go out and play your game.”

In an interview earlier this week, Jim Hughes really talked up Rielly’s training camp and preseason performances with and without the puck:

He’s been very consistent. His game doesn’t really change night to night. It’s sound, it’s steady, it’s consistent. He plays a sharp game that is detailed, both when he has the puck and when he doesn’t have the puck. He defends the rush very well, he doesn’t get beat out of the corners in the defensive zone; his game is compact. He’s a smart kid, so he kind of gets it.

Rielly is expected to play with Cody Franson. It will be interesting to monitor how Randy manages his minutes, which will likely depend on how he looks early.

MacArthur returns to Toronto

Clarke MacArthur will take part in the first meaningful battle of Battle of Ontario since changing sides.

MacArthur spoke out against Carlyle’s coaching style in the media today, complaining that Carlyle harped on him with negatives too often and it wore on him. Returning to Toronto was never a consideration.

“Some guys are good with the criticism and some guys don’t want to hear it every single shift you come off the ice,” MacArthur said. “You’re old enough to know (you) made a mistake. You don’t need to hear it every five seconds.

“It weighs differently on different people and, for me, it was some long days.”

Where a player’s coach Dallas Eakins might approach each player differently – he often says his job as a coach is to figure out what makes each player tick, whether it be a kick in the ass or an encouraging word – Carlyle is a hardened veteran bench boss known for his love-it-or-lump it approach.

What works for some might not for others.

Take Kadri’s opinion on his coach, for example:

“He (Carlyle) explains everything he does, even if you don’t get the minutes you want there’s an explanation for it, a reason for it,” Kadri said. “And he’ll come tell you personally, it’s not beating around the bush sending someone else to come preach.

“I just like the communication.”

“Before I didn’t really get the impression that I was kind of wanted in the lineup or I really deserved the minutes that I may have gotten,” Kadri said following Friday’s practice. “With Randy Carlyle it’s a whole different ballgame.

“He makes me feel like I belong here and I can be a big contributor here and I feel like that as well. As a young guy I just needed others to believe in me as well.”

Nazem seemed to appreciate the honesty and direct approach; MacArthur was surprised his by reputed hard-ass coach being a hard-ass coach and didn’t like playing hockey anymore last season, apparently.

Let’s hope for a short and sweet pregame ceremony for the home opener. Here are the lineups:

Maple Leafs Lines vs. Ottawa Senators

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Ottawa Senators Lineups, Oct. 5th, 2013
Left WingCenterRight Wing
Left DefenseRight Defense