LGD: Saturday Night Swordfight

Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY SPORTS

It’s another rendition of the Battle of the QEW tonight, as the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Buffalo Sabres at the Air Canada Centre this evening. Here’s what we expect to go down. 

The Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff

I’d pull the “Free Marchenko” card here, but the third pair was actually pretty good against St. Louis and the team as a group only gave up a single regulation goal; not to mention, got better as the game progressed. Josh Leivo also definitely earned another look tonight, as he appeared to reinvigorate a slumping fourth line. 

The Sabres

Buffalo Sabres lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff

The Sabres are one of only a few teams in the NHL where you can say that Toronto is comfortably better on the back-end, especially at even strength where brand names like Ristolainen and Kulikov are, uhh, not great. Buffalo is without Cody Franson and Zach Bogosian, which makes things even worse.

With that in mind, this needs to be the Leafs’ most relentless game of the season. Rush them. Take risks. Barring a lucky night, this isn’t a group that’s situated to handle it at all. 

Starting Goaltenders

Mike Babcock said that he wanted Frederik Andersen to snap out of his slump by working through it, and while he took an OTL against the Blues afterward, his actual performance was in line with that hope. Andersen stopped 38 of 40, and on most nights, that would be enough to win the game. Beating the Sabres is something that Freddy has already done a couple of times this year; he’s 2-0 with a 0.943 save percentage in his games against Buffalo.

On the other side of the net, you’ll find Robin Lehner. He was pulled in their last matchup and will likely be looking for redemption; it’s up to the Leafs to not give it to him.

What To Look Out For

Again; all the pressure. This needs to be a rebound game after a goal-quiet loss, where the Leafs prey on a broken down (from already questionable) defensive corps and a goalie that’s already had issues with them. There’s simply no excuse for a bad effort tonight.

Puck drop is at 7:00 PM. You’ll find the game on Hockey Night in Canada.

  • LukeWarmWater

    I tend to agree Jeff put the pressure on the Sabre defence with the first face off. Maintain the pressure and hopefully the refs might see fit to give the leafs more than one power play which is all they got the other night. The P.P. has been such a boon to the club this year.

    The Canuckleheads blew a game in Boston this afternoon. Got to wonder if the whole league will be changing coaches as the Islanders, Blues and now Bruins are on winning streaks since the changes. The bruins victory should give the leafs even more incentive to come up with a strong performance tonight.

    I too worry about shots on goal reaching the 40 mark , oh sure a lot will be of the long from bad angle shots but Andersen will again have to be sharp. As said before, every team now scrapping and clawing and scratching for every point they can get. Hopefully we will bury some of those chances we missed against the Blues the other night. A little more crashing the net would be a nice sight to see from the leafs. Prediction 4 to 2 for the leafs.