LGD - GAME 26: LEAFS @ SABRES - BUFFALO SOLJA

Steve Dangle
November 29 2013 11:14AM

 

As you may have heard, the Leafs didn't get a single shot on goal in the third period and overtime against the Penguins last game. If they want a win in Buffalo, a building where the Leafs typically don't have the best luck, they're going to need to bring more of what Randy Marsh has in his wheelbarrow, figuratively speaking.

The Leafs have given up eleven goals in their last two games if you don't count the sixth the Penguins got for the shootout win. Toronto lost 6-0 one game, then coughed up a 4-1 lead to lose in the next. The Sabres on the other hand are on a five game losing streak. Buffalo last won on Friday, November 15th against the Leafs, and began their losing streak the next night on Saturday against the Leafs. Buffalo has only scored one goal in four straight games.

We've got some two struggling teams here and something's gotta give.

KEY STATISTICS

  Leafs Sabres
Corsi Close % 42.7% (29th) 38.9% (30th)
5v5 GF/60 2.28 (17th) 1.24 (30th)
5v5 GA/60 1.94 (11th) 3.07 (26th)
PDO 103.5 (5th) 97.1 (27th)
     
  Leafs Sabres
5v4 GF/60 8.62 (5th) 5.31 (25th)
5v4 SF/60 60.4 (6th) 50.2 (20th)
4v5 GA/60 6.37 (16th) 7.80 (22nd)
4v5 SA/60 64.1 (27th) 68.6 (29th)

Via ExtraSkater.com

Here's a non-fancy stat: The Buffalo Sabres are the absolute worst team on home ice in the entire NHL. They have a 2-11-1 record in their own barn. The Sabres' first home win of the season didn't come until November 12 against the Kings when Ryan Miller stood on his brain with a 45-save performance in a 3-2 shootout win. It even had an asterisk: The Kings scored what should have been a game-winner, but the officials totally whiffed on and it didn't count. Buffalo's other win was a 3-1 win over the Leafs which saw Miller stand on his face yet again. The Leafs are middle of the pack on the road with a 5-5-2 record, which is 17th in the league. 

Whether you care about advanced stats or not, this is an interesting game. Both the Leafs and Sabres have terrible possession numbers, meaning neither team has the puck a lot. Well, what happens when two teams with bad possession numbers collide? Does the puck just float aimlessly through the neutral zone like a game of air hockey? No. One team gets the biscuit more than the other. Who's it going to be? Who knows? These are the two worst possession teams in the league.

LEAFS LINEUP

The good news: Carter Ashton is back up. The bad news: It's because Joffrey Lupul is out.

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Mason Raymond - Nazem Kadri - David Clarkson
Jay McClement - Peter Holland - Nikolai Kulemin
Frazer McLaren - Jerred Smithson - Colton Orr

Dion Phaneuf - Carl Gunnarsson
Mark Fraser - Cody Franson
Paul Ranger - Morgan Rielly

When I saw that Jake Gardiner was still a healthy scratch for tonight I was ready to molotov cocktail my laptop. I searched Twitter though, and it looks like he'll actually be back in.

I'm not terribly happy Morgan Rielly is getting scratched either. I guess I'm just more used to it.

Oh! Apparently there's another change to the lineup. What could it be?

...This I'm not happy about either. Peter Holland has been good in the games he has played. Jerred Smithson on the other hand averages the lowest ice time per shift in the entire NHL at 31 seconds per shift. Sure, he wins faceoffs, but then he gets the hell of out dodge. I would just like to see a more versatile player in that role is all. Trevor Smith or Carter Ashton should slot in while Holland has a seat.

SABRES LINEUP

Matt Moulson - Cody Hodgson - Drew Stafford
Tyler Ennis - Ville Leino - Steve Ott
Luke Adam - Mikhail Grigorenko - Zemgus Gigensons
??? ??? - Brian Flynn - Marcus Foligno

Christian Ehrhoff - Alexander Sulzer
Henrik Tallinder - Tyler Myers
Mark Mysyk - Brayden McNabb

You may be wondering who goes where the question marks are. DailyFaceoff.com still has Corey Tropp listed on the Sabres' fourth line, but that's impossible because he was claimed by the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier this week. Check DF closer to puck drop to see who gets slotted in. By the way, you may remember Corey Tropp as the guy in this fight.

Which lead to this fight.

  

STARTING GOALIES

James Reimer is expected to start for the Leafs in this one. While he didn't have his best game against Columbus this week, but he was completely hung out to dry. He's relieving Jonathan Bernier of the shelling he got against the Penguins, where he too was hung out to dry.

Hey here's a thought: We agree that the Leafs' Reimer-Bernier tandem is pretty awesome, right? I mean I think so. Their numbers are excellent. Consider this though... Both James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier have given up 4-1 leads in the last seven months. Perhaps even scarier is I don't think either goalie is to blame for those losses. The Leafs have to find a way to keep that shot count down, whether those shots are allegedly forced to the outside or not.

Ryan Miller will be starting for Buffalo because Buffalo. Miller has four of Buffalo's five wins. Miller's save percentage is a respectable .918, which is amazing because he has a 4-15 record. The Sabres are dead last in the NHL right now, but without Miller, the Sabres would be in 31st. They would have to invite a new place in the standings for Buffalo. They're that bad.

That being said, this is exactly the kind of game the Leafs often lose.

The Leafs and the Sabres drop the puck at 7:30 Eastern, on Leafs TV. Don't forget to Streakcred.

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Steve Dangle has a YouTube channel with over 3 million views and is the co-host of the Steve Dangle Podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud. Steve has also worked for CBC, the NHL Network, Leafs TV, Nike, the KHL, and most of all, the Toronto Zoo. stevedangle.com
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#1 John Lofranco
November 29 2013, 12:51PM
Trash it!
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Could be that if the Leafs can't prevent even mediocre Buffalo from going 30+ in shots, that's evidence that the system is at issue.

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#2 Jeremy Ian
November 29 2013, 03:37PM
Trash it!
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@John Lofranco

Yeah, I guess that's what many of us will be wondering....

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