LGD: Home game in Buffalo

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Photo Credit: Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY SPORTS

The Leafs head on the road for a home game in Buffalo tonight, in what’s not necessarily a must-win but definitely a should-win and more accurately would-be-very-nice-to-win.

The Sabres are kind of a funny team, in that they haven’t won a playoff series since 2007 (and haven’t been in the playoffs since 2011), yet don’t seem a whole lot closer than last season, where they finished with 81 points. They currently have 72. They’ve yet to see the emergence of the final piece of their young three (in Nylander Jr.), but are definitely at the getting-fans-and-media-getting-restless point of their rebuild.

Probably my favourite fun fact about this rivalry is that the Leafs drafted Auston Matthews in Buffalo!

The unfortunate thing though is that as much fun as it is to laugh at Buffalo’s missteps, there’s still a very real task the Leafs have ahead of them. With both Tampa Bay and the New York Islanders stepping up last night and earning wins, Toronto needs to come out from tonight with two points if they’re looking to create some space in the standings. Hey, nobody said this was going to be easy!

The Leafs

Defensive Pairings
Morgan Rielly
Morgan Rielly
Connor Carrick
Connor Carrick
Jake Gardiner
Jake Gardiner
Nikita Zaitsev
Nikita Zaitsev
Matt Hunwick
Matt Hunwick
Alexey Marchenko
Alexey Marchenko

Ben Smith! A second straight game without Roman Polak! What a lineup! Anything is possible! (Leivo and Soshnikov are both out tonight.)

The Sabres

Defensive Pairings
Zach Bogosian
Zach Bogosian
Jake McCabe
Jake McCabe
Josh Gorges
Josh Gorges
Justin Falk
Justin Falk
Brady Austin
Brady Austin
Dmitry Kulikov
Dmitry Kulikov

Evan Rodrigues is a Toronto native, so expect that to be a major story line tonight.

Some other points of note:

  • Hey, remember when Josh Gorges refused a trade to Toronto? (For his injured teammate Cody Franson)
  • Tyler Ennis has four goals this season, but is slotted in on the Sabres first line
  • Jack Eichel has 50 points in 53 games, which is #good.
  • Brian Gionta is still in the league and will probably hit 35 points this year
  • Rasmus Ristolainen has a 43.5% CF at 5v5 but might hit 50 points. Impeccable! Amongst defencemen who have played at least 500 minutes this year, he’s allowed shot attempts at the highest rate in the league (65.52/60)

Between the Pipes

Freddy vs. Robin (Lehner) tonight. Andersen carries a .919 save percentage, while Lehner carries a .921 save percentage this season. Even enough matchup.

Where to watch

CBC! It’s Saturday. It’s gonna be a good day. Always is.

  • lukewarmwater

    It was a good day till Andersen went down with the injury. Btw the article written about the previous leaf victory was so hot off the press that poor Connor Brown didn’t get credit for his beauty of a goal that made the score 4 to 2. Tonight , nada, zilch, zero as the game has now been over for 2 hours.
    It is also getting difficult to enter this site. So much for the new , improved version. No wonder the postings are way down.