Former Senators owner: “I think this market is not yet like Toronto, and please, God, it won’t get like that”

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The Ottawa Senators surpassed expectations in 2011-12 by making the playoffs. It’s entirely possible that they’ll regress a bit next season – especially if Daniel Alfredsson retires – but overall, the future seems bright for them.

Which is vital for the survival of the team, because former Senators owner Rod Bryden doesn’t think that the Ottawa fanbase will pay to see the team if there’s a lack of both on-ice talent and front office vision.

“I think this market is not yet like Toronto, and please, God, it won’t get like that,” said Bryden. “But I don’t think the fans will come notwithstanding a team that doesn’t know what it’s doing.

“I think a persistently bad team would have lots of trouble here.”

Bryden is bashing Toronto over the belief that the fans of Ottawa’s bitter rivals will pay to see the team play regardless of the product on the ice. He sees it as a positive that, in his mind, Senators fans won’t do the same.

At the same time, he did praise Senators fans for sticking with their team during the rebuilding process.

“They were pretty supportive of the need to make some changes and possibly miss the playoffs,” said Bryden. “If that were to go on for a few years though, I think you’d see a fairly quick erosion of attendance.”

The Maple Leafs, along with the Senators, are engaged in a rebuilding process, but so far Toronto hasn’t been able to reach the postseason. Still, depending on how their summers go, there’s a legitimate chance that both clubs will end up making the playoffs in 2012-13.

Auston Matthews’ 33rd goal includes a dash of comedy (Video)

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This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)

On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.

William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.

Hnnngmgghh indeed.

That goal could end up being key as the Blue Jackets quickly scored to start the second period, shrinking Toronto’s lead to 2-1 on Wednesday.

Video: Leafs’ Carrick delivers thunderous hit on Blue Jackets’ Anderson

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Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs have motivation to win their Wednesday game, but the Maple Leafs need it more.

So far, it shows, too.

The Maple Leafs have raced off to a 2-0 lead, with Auston Matthews scoring his 33rd goal of the season. If generating such offense didn’t highlight the urgency, Connor Carrick‘s huge hit on Josh Anderson makes a compelling argument. Witness that big impact in the video above.

There was also another high-impact moment when Nick Foligno went crashing into the boards:

Ouch, Blues consider Paul Stastny out week-to-week

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The St. Louis Blues announced that Paul Stastny is out week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

Stastny was limited to less than four minutes of ice time during last night’s 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche. Initially, head coach Mike Yeo indicated that the issue wasn’t serious.

There are only about three weeks left in the regular season, so it’s tough to tell if “week-to-week” would mean that the Blues will be without Stastny for any playoff time.

With Stastny out for an expended period of time and other injuries affecting Blues forwards, it sounds like Nail Yakupov gets another chance to prove himself:

Stastny generated 18 goals and 40 points in 66 games so far this season. He has played more of a defensive role this season (46.2 offensive zone start percentage after being closer to 50 earlier in his Blues days) and has been impressive in the dot, winning 53.8 of his faceoffs.

WATCH LIVE: Islanders at Rangers – Wednesday Night Rivalry

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A night after a feisty matcuhup with the Devils, the Rangers host an even bigger rival in the Islanders at Madison Square Garden for Wednesday Night Rivalry on NBCSN.

As nasty as Tuesday’s contest got at times, this one means more.

While the Rangers seem pretty safely seated as the East’s first wild card, the Islanders stand three points behind the Maple Leafs for the final spot in the conference. They’ve seen other bubble teams stumble, so this is their chance to close in on Toronto in what might be a shrinking field of contenders.

Spiting the Islanders might just give the Rangers a little extra life on back-to-back nights … especially since their fans would probably let them have it if they sleepwalk through this one.

It should be a fun, physical and dramatic one on NBCSN. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.