Puck Drop: 7:00
TV: Sportsnet Ontario
The Toronto Maple Leafs are getting set to kick off the second half of their schedule with a home-and-home against division rivals The Buffalo Sabres. Tonight's game will see the Leafs' at home, and then play in Buffalo on Friday.
Winners of their last three games, the Leafs will be looking to increase their lead over the Sabres from 6 to 8 points and expand their current 2-point cushion over the 9th place Winnipeg Jets. It's unlikely that Buffalo ever manages to pull even, but stranger things have happened, and it wouldn't take much of a slip to fall from the playoff rankings, so it's another important two points for the Leafs. Of course, given the way things are going, it's probably going to be a tight race to make the playoffs, so probably almost every game from here on in is going to be an important two points.
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Tyler Bozak is apparently at least a week away, and John-Michael Liles hasn't even been practicing, so, until other injuries and/or trades occur, the real roster crunch won't hit yet. I should point out that I don't think this roster crunch (if it every actually happens) is far from a bad thing, and that it doesn't mean the Leafs have to trade anyone. I really feel as though some folks have just become too accustomed to having not enough NHL-caliber players. To have a slight excess is a good thing - though I do not disagree that changes in personnel are likely coming.
I'm not crazy that Keith Aulie will see so much ice once again, but it seems that Ron Wilson is intent on keeping the group that beat the Wings together, even if it was mostly a terrible effort. The only Leaf (in danger of sitting) that really earned another game was Gustavsson, so let's hope he can keep things rolling.