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Game Day Notes: Pre-Season Game #1 - Sens @ Maple Leafs

Get set for this evening's pre-season opener in St. John's with the latest news and notes before the puck drops against the Maple Leafs.

by Craig Medaglia @craigmedaglia / Ottawa Senators

Who's in? Who's out? As the Sens get set for their first exhibition game of the year, we take a quick look at some line-up details and storylines before's this evening's 5:30 p.m. ET start in St. John's.

 

A pair of young forwards look to lock down NHL spots

For Sens wingers Drake Batherson and Alex Formenton, tonight's pre-season game against Toronto offers them each a chance to make their case to start their seasons in the NHL.

"It's a great opportunity for me to play with those two guys tonight," said Batherson about skating on a line with Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Anthony Duclair. The trio was put together to start training camp and has been noticeable in the team's skates and scrimmages to date.

While Batherson will play alongside forwards with NHL experience, Formenton has been matched up with fellow prospects Josh Norris and Rookie Showcase standout Vitaly Abramov. With all three battling for just a few potential spots in Ottawa, Formenton believes that dynamic could actually be to his benefit.

"There's competition but I think that just pushes me to play the best I can," Formenton said. "I'm excited to get into the line-up and it should be a fun game tonight."

 

East Coast Ties

It may be a quick visit out East but the Sens have several players with ties to St. John's and Newfoundland that are making the trip including head coach D.J. Smith who played 5 season with the St. John's Maple Leafs from 1997 to 2002.

"When I went there when I was 19 or 20-years-old everyone told me how far it was," he said. "I ended up just loving it. Nicest people in the world, they take you in like family and I can't say enough nice things about them."

Video: OTT @ TOR | Coach Pre-game

In addition to Batherson, who's entire mother's side of his family lives there, both Josh Norris and Parker Kelly have ties to the area as well.

"My dad's whole family still lives out there," said Norris. "He won't be there tonight but I'll have all his brothers, his mom and a bunch of my cousins in attendance tonight for my first pro exhibition game."

Norris's father, Dwayne, was born in St. John's and was inducted into the NL Hall of Fame in 2015 after a 20-year career that saw him win a WJC-20 Gold Medal and an Olympic Silver Medal with Team Canada as well as 20 games in the NHL with Quebec and Anaheim.

 

Lines and Pairings

The Sens released their roster for this evening's game on Monday afternoon and should the forward lines and defence pairings from today's morning skate stick, here's a look at their projected line-up against the Maple Leafs…

Duclair - Pageau - Batherson

Balcers - Tierney - Rodewald

Abramov - Norris - Formenton

Kelly - Beaudin - Scherwey

 

Brannstrom - DeMelo

Lajoie - Ebert

Englund - Goloubef

 

In Goal

Anders Nilsson will get the nod in goal tonight for the Senators but back-up Marcus Hogberg could see some action as well according to the coach.

"(Nilsson) will decide if he's going to play two periods or all three and then Andy will go tomorrow," said Smith. "We'll give some of the younger guys some periods as well but in the National Hockey League, you don't only play two so we want to get some guys some games but we want to make sure that our main guys are ready to go."

Tweet from @Senators: #Sens head coach D.J. Smith confirms Anders Nilsson gets the start tonight in St. John's. Marcus Hogberg backs him up. pic.twitter.com/SNSuVQpzbM

Smith went on to share that he hopes to provide some playing time to Hogberg, Filip Gustavsson and Joey Daccord as well but his primary focus is getting his NHL tandem ready for the regular season."

"We want to give these guys a period or two here and there," said Smith. "With only 6 exhibition games, you have to make sure the bulk of the work gets put on the guys that are going to be here."

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