On November 9th, 2007 Andrew Raycroft shut out the Buffalo Sabres. Since then the Leafs are 2-8-1 against Buffalo with their last win coming more than a calendar year ago on December 12th at the HSBC Center. To say Buffalo has our number is a huge understatement.
The Leafs are a team that allow a lot of goals and whose offense is often stymied by hot goaltenders. The Sabres have lots of forwards who can score and the best goaltender in the league right now; Ryan Miller.Vesa Toskala will get his seventh start in a row tonight. His last showing was piss poor but on the whole he's played almost acceptably and to be honest that's good enough for this team. The Leafs don't need Toskala to be a superstar or even to be league average, and let's face it he won't ever be, they need Toskala to not singlehandedly lose games. Over their past games the Leafs are 4-2-0 with Toskala putting up an 0.899 save percentage over that span. Take out the Phoenix game and the Leafs went 4-1-0 over a five game stretch where Toskala put up a league average save percentage of 0.913.
Luke Schenn is out of the press box tonight and Viktor Stalberg was called up from the Marlies. Jeff Finger was benched for most of the third against Phoenix so I'd expect him to sit, while Rickard Wallin was invisible again and will make room for Vik. I'd like to see Stalberg get some time with Stempniak and Primeau on a checking line that's incredibly quick and drives to the net for goals. Stalberg's goals in the preseason came from hard nosed play in front of the net and it'd be nice to see him get back to that.
Last year I got a great Christmas gift when the night before I flew to the Bahamas the Leafs knocked off Buffalo at home. I'm hoping that at the least this is some sort of weird annual thing. The Leafs have a tough weekend and coming out of it 1-1-1 would be huge. Let's get that started on the right foot tonight.