Photo Credit: Peter Llewellyn / USA TODAY SPORTS
Leafs fans are known for making the trek across the border to invade First Niagara Centre during games against the Buffalo Sabres – so much so that many blue and gold season ticket holders almost even up by selling their Leafs games and going to the rest.
But does the same thing happen in the pre-season? The price gap isn’t there, after all. Maybe fans need an excuse to go to Target, now that all the Canadian locations are gone? Anyway, we’ll see how many of the Toronto faithful are in the crowd tonight when the Leafs take on the Sabres.
The lines, according to LeafsTV’s Paul Hendrick:
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Brad Boyes
Shawn Matthias – Nazem Kadri – Joffrey Lupul
Michael Grabner – Nick Spaling – PA Parenteau
Rich Clune – William Nylander – Connor Brown
Matt Hunwick – Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner – Morgan Rielly
Scott Harrington – Martin Marincin
We’re starting to see what looks like a full lineup out of the Leafs, save for the fourth line and Scott Harrington, who are all projected to end up on the Toronto Marlies. Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer will split this game, with the latter starting it.
The Lines, according to Buffalo Hockey Beat’s Bill Hoppe:
Evander Kane – Ryan O’Reilly – Tyler Ennis
Matt Moulson – Jack Eichel – Brian Gionta
Nick Deslauriers – David Legwand – Marcus Foligno
Evan Rodrigues – Cal O’Reilly – Sam Reinhart
Brendan Guhle – Carlo Colaiacovo
Matt Donovan – Cody Franson
Rasmus Ristolainen – Mike Weber
It’s a vaguely similar situation for the Sabres, who will be playing their top two lines in what appears to be Jack Eichel’s pre-season home debut. The defence is a little empty, but that’s due to injuries to Zach Bogosian, Josh Gorges, Jake McCabe, and Chad Ruwedel. Patrick Kaleta is hurt up front, but that sounds like a good thing for all parties involved. Robin Lehner will start in goal and go the distance.
What To Watch For
Honestly? A nearly real hockey game is the biggest part of tonight. The teams are both playing a minimum of nine NHL forwards, complete top-sixes, NHL goaltenders, and something resembling defensive pairings. The “have a look” part of the pre-season is finally transitioning to the “get prepared” phase, and thank goodness for that.
Plus, we get to see Jack Eichel, which is always fun. Puck drop is at 7:00 PM on TSN 4.