And after seeing many of their minors’ prospects up close in recent years, not to mention some major off-season acquisitions in the country’s capital, the Toronto Maple Leafs head coach believes the The temperature of the once nasty Battle of Ontario – a small skirmish at the best of times since the mid-2000s – will soon rise significantly

“The rivalry is sure to intensify,” said Keefe. “They are a team that is getting better every day as an organization The number of young players they have in addition to any players added is essentially an entirely new team”

“They will be a lot more competitive this season and as they progress they will be a force in the league””

The NHL’s shortened 56-game schedule that includes a newly formed North Division so that the seven Canadian clubs don’t exceed the US Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the Senators and Leafs will be canceled between now and Jan. May play nine times, including a back-to-back set on Friday and Saturday in Ottawa

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“Some of the toughest games we’ve played in the regular season,” Keefe said of his team’s 2019-20 Senator encounters. “There’s an added sense of urgency when Ottawa plays Toronto Me felt that

Ottawa finished 30th in the last three seasons, 31 and 30 3rd place after an impressive squad drop shortly after reaching the goal of reaching the 2017 Stanley Cup Final

A young core led by Brady Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot were reinforced on the October draft, notably in the form of No. 3 Select Tim Stutzle Ottawa also made a number of moves for veterans including goalkeeper Matt Murray, defenseman Erik Gudbranson , Josh Brown and Braydon Coburn as well as forwards Derek Stepan, Austin Watson, Cedric Paquette and Alex Galchenyuk

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“They obviously want to make great strides,” said Leafs captain John Tavares, who grew up in the Toronto area and remembers the heyday of the Battle of Ontario in the late 1990s and early 2000s. “You did in the Made a lot of strong moves off-season You have a lot of young players who designed and developed them”

“Should be a lot of fun, should be a lot of battles, especially when we see them as often as we are”A lot on the line, a lot to play”

The Leafs opened the pandemic-altered schedule on Wednesday with a 5-4 home win over the Montreal Canadiens in a game they were half asleep in until one of Toronto’s off-season signings – Wayne Simmonds – helped to improve his team fight against Ben Chiarot

“Drop your gloves and gain momentum it can be talked about “, Tavares said of Simmonds” (but) only the intensity, only the posture and commitment of him shift and shift, are physically involved, are skating around the puck, moving his feet, difficult to play be, all of these intangibles

“If we have that on our roster and he’s leading the indictment, it just sends great message and (sets) a great tone for the group and is exactly what we are looking for””

The new additions to Simmonds, veteran striker Joe Thornton and injured defender Zach Bogosian were mostly about effort and culture change in Toronto Ottawa was looking for obvious talent upgrades, but also leadership skills and the ability to isolate some of its youths

Ottawa head coach D.J Smith, an assistant to the Leafs from 2015 to 2019 under Mike Babcock, said there were similarities between what happened to the Senators and what his old team went through before they became a contender

“It’s a patient process,” he said, “I believe in Ottawa, we will have a good team for a long time”

The Senators, who weren’t part of the NHL’s summer reboot and haven’t played since March, have no illusions about where they are likely to end up in the North Division with the other six teams on the circuit in varying stages of development – and phases of expectation in Ottawa it should be difficult to land anywhere else than the last one

But the foundation Smith wants to build is about fighting for every inch of ice – and preparing the senators for the future

“If we want to be successful in the playoffs later, you can tell they are big, strong teams,” he said. “The most competitive people win. We have to keep being competitive.”

They’ll have a first test with their home opening game on Friday, and then they’ll do it again 24 hours later

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Ottawa Senators, Maple Leaves Vs Senators

World News – CA – “You Will Be A Force”: Keefe of Maple Leafs sees brighter days for Ottawa Senators