How long have we been waiting for this Leafs fans? Six years? That's way too long to go between conference finals appearances. This is it though, one more series win and the Maple Leafs take on the winner of the Dallas/Colorado Western final for our first Stanley Cup in 32 years! I don't want to get too excited, but I would like to break the drought before the Blackhawks end theirs and the Leafs end up with the "longest cup drought" title. Looking at the 'Hakws ownership and management situation though, I doubt that happens anytime soon. Tonight we kick off the conference finals. Captain Mats vs Captain Mike. CuJo vs the Dominator. This will also be a great time for the Leafs solid defense crew of Danny Markov, Tomas Kaberle, Dmitry Yushkevich, and one hot up and comer in Bryan Berard.
After dispatching the Flyers in 6, then the Penguins in 5, the Leafs biggest challenge comes now, surprisingly against the 7th seed Buffalo Sabres, who haven't had too hard a time themselves sweeping the Sens in round 1 and defeating Boston in 6.
Tonight's line ups aren't available yet but i hear Dwayne Roloson will start for Buffalo instead of Dominik Hasek. Are the Sabres getting cocky or is there something else amiss? Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff seems to know what he's doing, but if they don't win this series or the cup could he be on his way out? The Sabres haven't had much patience with coaches lately, firing Jack Adams winner Ted Nolan after 3 seasons, under some suspicious circumstances too, so I doubt we'll see his name around Buffalo in the future. I'm not too worried about him though, a couple season off and Ted will be back in the NHL in no time.
The Leafs coach Pat Quinn and President Ken Dryden have been doing well with the team, though I hear they don't get along too well because Dryden wanted to bring on ex-Hab Bob Gainey as General Manager.
We'll see how these two teams face off on Hockey Night in Canada tonight, hopefully a trip to the cup could bring in a top free agent like Theo Fleury this summer. At 93 points the Avs would be silly to let him go, but it's worth a shot to bring a player like that here.
Seriously though, you could swear the NHL scheduled this game today on purpose. Leafs/Sabres on April Fools day? Good Lord. The Leafs are coming in off two wins in a row, something they have not done since Feb 21/26 and are now in game 2 of a back to back. Reimer made 40 saves in the win over the Lightning last night, and yeah, okay it didn't hurt the tank, but tonight....tonight we prank Sabres fans and LET THEIR TEAM WIN!
Now 25 straight games without a goal for Joffrey Lupul. He has just one point in the past 21 games and was held without a shot tonight.— Jonas Siegel (@jonasTSN1050) April 1, 2015
Peter Horachek's April Fool's joke for the #leafs: He originally told players it was a mandatory morning skate after playing last night.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) April 1, 2015
Leafs send down Sam Carrick.— James Mirtle (@mirtle) April 1, 2015
Casey Bailey will play for the Leafs tonight in Buffalo.— Jonas Siegel (@jonasTSN1050) April 1, 2015
(Show those Sabres what they missed eh? eh?)
Phil!— Phil Kessel (@PKessel81) July 21, 2013
No Rasmus Ristolainen on ice for #Sabres morning skate? Oh boy.— Mike Harrington (@BNHarrington) April 1, 2015
Risto has bad flu. Nolan not optimistic for tonight. #Sabres— Mike Harrington (@BNHarrington) April 1, 2015
Lindback for #Sabres tonight.— Mike Harrington (@BNHarrington) April 1, 2015
The #sabres are currently carrying four goalies. Lindback starts tonight vs. Toronto, with Makarov backing up. pic.twitter.com/TBKp2CNWiO— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) April 1, 2015
NHL.com Projected Line Ups
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Leo Komarov – Nazem Kadri – Joakim Lindstrom
David Booth – Trevor Smith – Joffrey Lupul
Casey Bailey – Zach Sill – Richard Panik
Eric Brewer – Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner – Morgan Rielly
Tim Erixon – TJ Brennan
Scratched: Brandon Kozun
Injured: Peter Holland (lower body), Nathan Horton (back), Stephane Robidas (shoulder), Roman Polak (sports hernia)
Matt Moulson – Johan Larsson – Tyler Ennis
Marcus Foligno – Mikhail Grigorenko – Brian Gionta
Cody Hodgson – Matt Ellis – Zac Dalpe
Nicolas Deslauriers – Philip Varone – Patrick Kaleta
Andre Benoit – Zach Bogosian
Mike Weber – Tyson Strachan
Nikita Zadorov – Andrej Meszaros
Scratched: Rasmus Ristolainen (illness)
Injured: Matt Hackett (lower body), Jerry D'Amigo (facial surgery), Zemgus Girgensons (lower body), Josh Gorges (lower body), Chad Johnson (lower body), Cody McCormick (blood clots), Evander Kane (shoulder)
Final Thoughts: Again, I like competitive games and the Leafs really can't hurt their lottery standing here, but man, I want a Sabres win just to upset all the tank fans.
Oh and the Leafs lost game 1 in '99 5-4 and the series 4-1.
Don't worry, they got theirs: