LGD: Buffa-lo expectations

The Toronto Maple Leafs have done a spectacular job at helping the tank over this past week. They’ve been playing their rookies, they’ve been playing well, and most importantly, have repeatedly lost every game by one goal in regulation. As such, the team now sits six points behind 29th place, but tonight they face a team that might just be close enough to their weight class to draw a rare victory in the Buffalo Sabres.

The Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff

MILAN MICHALEK IS ALIVE! Like Colin Greening, Michalek will be used by the Leafs in largely beneficial situations in an effort to get him back in game shape and re-invigorate interest in him across the league. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to believe that the Leafs might be able to move one, if not both players before draft day, though the team is likely content with playing them into next year as well.

Beyond that, the lines are pretty much business as usual. Brooks Laich and Ben Smith appear to be swapping positions, but that’s the only real change.

The Sabres

Buffalo Sabres lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff

Parts of Buffalo’s lineup amuse the hell out of me. Carlo Colaiacovo is healthy in a late-season game? David Legwand, Matt Moulson, and Brian Gionta are still alive? Have the Sabres been able to convince their fans that Cal O’Reilly is Ryan with a different jersey number? There are some great core pieces here (that first line is going to be deadly very soon), but you can tell their plan is still in the development stage.

Starting Goaltenders

Garet Sparks is in goal for the Leafs tonight, playing in his third game since the deadline. He’s been very good since coming back up, stopping 46 of 50 shots since the trade deadline. The losses certainly haven’t been his fault; we’ll see if he can keep that momentum going tonight.

Chad Johnson is in goal for the Sabres. He hasn’t played much in the past few weeks, but his last performance on February 26th was a good one; he stopped 24 of 25 in a Sabres victory.

What To Look Out For

  • Matt Hunwick leaving Morgan Rielly out to try
  • Leo Komarov acting as a double interpreter for a heated debate between Nazem Kadri and Nikita Soshnikov
  • Milan Michalek setting up Peter Holland for a game-winning goal that does the Leafs no good but makes Holland very happy
  • Buffalo reporters whining about Mike Babcock choosing the Leafs over the Sabres last spring
Puck drop is at 7:30 PM. This game will be broadcast on TSN, or you can follow along with us on Twitter if you’ll be away from a screen!