It’s time for Leafs Nation to take over the KeyBank Center in Buffalo again: Leafs Tailgate
Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
By Nick Alberga9 months ago
57 games in, the Leafs (34-15-8) will finally make their one and only visit to the KeyBank Center tonight in Buffalo to tangle with the red-hot Sabres (28-22-4).
In their first of three meetings this season on November 19th in Toronto, the Leafs took the opener 5-2. Sheldon Keefe’s squad is coming off another weekend split. They pumped Montreal 5-1 on home ice on Saturday night before dropping a 5-3 decision to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night.
Meantime, behind an incredible season from Tage Thompson, Buffalo’s been a revelation and are legitimately sniffing around a playoff spot for the first time in over a decade. That said, if there were ever a good time to catch them, it’s tonight. That’s because it’s the dreaded first game back home for the Sabres after a three-game Western road trip.
TIME: 7 PM ET (TSN)
TOR Ilya Samsonov – LIKELY (19-7-2, 2.38, 0.915, 3 SO)
BUF Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen – LIKELY (14-7-2, 3.36, 0.898)
CAN THE LEAFS RESPOND AFTER WHATEVER THAT WAS IN CHICAGO?
After an ugly outing in Chicago on Sunday night, I’m looking for a response out of the new-look Leafs tonight. I don’t know what it is, but they’ve really struggled against some of the league’s worst teams this season. In fact, the losses could ultimately end up costing them home ice in their inevitable showdown with Tampa in Round 1. At any rate, I’m curious to see how they come out, especially when taking into account how much this organization has struggled in Buffalo over the past decade.
WILL SHELDON KEEFE JUMBLE THINGS UP?
With Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari in the fold, the Leafs possess even more depth in front. Of course, ROR’s been skating with John Tavares and Mitch Marner while Acciari’s been anchoring the fourth line. Having said that, I wonder if Sheldon Keefe uses the last 25 regular season games for some experimentation. Over time, I’m sure they’ll give everything a look —including a configuration that features Matthews, Tavares, and O’Reilly up the middle. The options are plenty. And I’m sure Keefe loves that.
RUNNING ON FUMES
It’s the third game in four nights for Toronto, so it’s understandable to expect a bit of a more open game. That said, they need to stay within themselves. Personally, I’d love to see the Leafs reign it in defensively a bit, but I doubt that happens against a run and gun type team like the Buffalo Sabres. In light of that, it would be nice to see them simplify their game, go into Buffalo, and pull out a victory. On top of that, the Sabres are fighting for their playoff lives, it would be nice to hand them a crucial blow in their quest. This should be a good one.
(As of Noon EDT)
Ryan O’Reilly Over 1.5 SOG
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