LGD: Race to Rebuild

sabres

Coming out of this past summer, there was some talk about how the Sabres and Leafs – both young clubs in full-on rebuild mode – could see their eventual peaks at around the same time. The thinking has been that, down the road, these two teams could form a major divisional rivalry as they make their climb into contention. 

And that isn’t far-fetched. You’ve got plenty of good storylines going here: Two American franchise cornerstones in Eichel and Matthews, the Nylander brothers eventually facing off against each other, and of course the whole Babcock fiasco from 2015. The potential for this rivalry is certainly there, but as of today the Leafs have gotten out to a nice head start in the race to making real noise in the conference, and they’ll want to put that on display tonight in attempting to keep hold of a playoff spot in the east.

THE LEAFS

Business as usual.

THE SABRES

STARTING GOALTENDERS

Starters haven’t been confirmed by either side yet, but it looks like Andersen (0.919 sv%) will go for the Leafs. Anders Nilsson (0.924) likely gets the net for Buffalo, given the Sabres are on the second half of a back-to-back and Lehner started yesterday evening against Dallas. 

NUMBERS

TOR   BUF
Wins 20 17
Points-Percentage .585 .500
Powerplay 23.8%  22.3%
Penalty Kill 84.4%  74.4%
Score-adjusted Corsi  51.4% (9th)  47.2% (26th) 

WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR

This is the first time Matthews and Eichel will line up against each other, as the latter missed an earlier tilt between these two teams due to injury. You’ll remember there were plenty of questions at draft time about how, if Matthews was just two days older, whether he or Eichel would’ve been drafted 2nd behind McDavid. Hypotheticals aside, this has the potential to be a nice rivalry between two players that represent a big part of the future of American hockey. Should be fun.

Game goes 7pm EST at the ACC, the start of a four-game homestand for the Leafs. Sportsnet-O will have the broadcast. 

  • Getrdone

    Well, I know that if I was a Buffalo fan I would be pissed if “the” coach I wanted signed with our rival for the same money. Leafs appear to be ahead of Buffalo in the rebuild process, but we have not had the injuries that Buffalo has had this year. Mind you I love what the Leafs are doing, I am just saying if the shoe was on the other foot Leaf Nation would be pissed too.

  • Harte of a Lion

    The owner should stop meddling by pulling a “Ballard” and leave those he hired to make the hockey decisions. I think this was one reason Babs signed with the Leafs.

  • Stan Smith

    Was just reading the other day that the Sabres have the third most man games lost to injury this season. That has to take a toll on the team. I also think they are a bit weak on defense. One has to just look and see the Franson is in their top 4 to realize that.