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Remodeled Leafs host struggling Senators

by Sergei J. Feldman

SENATORS (18-31-9) at MAPLE LEAFS (25-27-6)


Last 10 -- Ottawa 1-7-2; Toronto 6-3-1

Season series -- The two Northeast Division opponents will go at it for the fifth of six times this season. They've split the first four.

Big story -- After weeks of speculation, Toronto GM Brian Burke finally pulled the trigger and sent defenseman Tomas Kaberle to the Bruins on Friday in exchange for Boston's first-round pick, 2008 first-rounder Joe Colborne and a conditional pick. While Burke was excited with the pieces he brought in, the decision to let go of the Leafs' longest tenured player was tough.

"On behalf of our entire organization I would like to thank Tomas for all of his many outstanding contributions to the Toronto Maple Leafs on the ice and in the community," Burke said. "He has been a model citizen and it's never easy to trade a player that has conducted himself as professionally as Tomas has for the past 13 years."

The Senators made another move of their own, sending Brian Elliott to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Craig Anderson in a swap of goalies. They dealt away veteran forwards Chris Kelly and Jarkko Ruutu earlier in the week.

Team scope:

Senators -- The Senators' struggles continue -- Friday's 4-2 home loss to Boston left them with just one win in eight games this month and their 10th defeat in a row at Scotiabank Place.

Anderson arrived during the first period of Friday's game and backed up rookie Robin Lehner. The pending free agent is likely to start this one.

"I've got a job to do," he said. "That's stop the puck. It's very simple. I have to control what I can control and I can't control what goes on off the ice. I just have to worry about stopping the puck and being there for the guys. Everything else will take care of itself."

Maple Leafs -- Despite trading away proven players like defenseman Francois Beauchemin and Kaberle, Burke has maintained the team is not ready to give up on the season. The Leafs' play of late has proven just that, as they've gone 6-3-1 in their past 10 and are eight points out of the eighth seed in the East. If Toronto wants to continue its climb in the East, the Leafs will need to take advantage of games against teams near the bottom of the standings, especially at home.

Who's hot -- As trade speculation surrounds Senators forward Alex Kovalev, he's been proving his worth of late on the ice, putting up 3 goals and an assist in his past three games, including a goal on Friday. Meanwhile, Toronto has gotten a boost from rookie goalie James Reimer, who has won three of his past four starts.

Injury report -- The Sens will have to do without the services of offensive-defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who remains day-to-day with a lower body injury. … The Leafs are short of goalies -- rookies Reimer and Ben Scrivens will dress because Jean-Sebastien Giguere is out with a lower body injury and Jonas Gustavsson is recovering from a heart procedure.

Stat pack -- The Sens trail only the New York Islanders for the most goals allowed in the Eastern Conference (194).

Puck drop -- Making the playoffs for the first time since 2004 is still on Burke's mind, though he says his moves are designed to build a long-term winner.

"We're trying to get in the playoffs the right way," he said after dealing Kaberle, a free agent after the season." We're not conceding the last spot. I believe we can put someone back in the lineup that can continue that momentum. I think our players know we are not throwing in the towel."

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