Tonight the Leafs head to Buffalo to take on Dan Bylsma's team, which includes an NHL-ready lineup of Jack Eichel and Evander Kane, with Robin Lehner in net. The game itself has a powerful storyline -- two teams in the midst of a rebuild are facing each other with nearly all of their pieces in place. It'll be interesting to gauge of how far these teams have come during training camp, and most of all, how much buy-in each coach has gotten for his system.
7:00 PM - TSN4 - WGR550
When last they met on Sept. 25, Buffalo bested Toronto 6-4, in a game memorable for all of its special team. Will this game be equally penalty laden? Mark Masters has already posted the projected PP units, perhaps in anticipation of a scrappy night: Rielly-Parenteau-JVR-Bozak-Boyes (PP1) and Kadri-Lupul-Nylander-Gardiner-Brown (PP2).
The Leafs have now lost both of the last two games at home against the Canadiens and the Sabres. The team has recently cut a number of players, including Devin Setoguchi and Curtis Glencross. Of the cuts, Babcock says they were "a really hard thing," but that he understands both sides of the process.
My daughter plays (NCAA) division one soccer and she goes through it every day, trying to get in the lineup. My son, (is) a first year division one athlete. He’s going to go through it. He’s left from being captain of his team to 'am I going to be in the lineup.' Being around my kids has made me understand the process way more. (Toronto Sun).
In a reaction to the game against Buffalo, which Babcock described as looking "dead," Babcock gave the team a day off on Sunday to recharge their energy before returning to practice tonight. Babcock said to the Toronto Sun:
It’s one thing to not have any legs, but when you can never at any point in the game get it going, you’re dead. We didn’t have any jump. We’ll take a step forward (Monday) in the evaluation process, the teaching process and the conditioning process to be ready for our next game.
Leafs' projected lines (thanks to @markhmasters)
JVR - Bozak - Boyes
Matthias - Kadri - Lupul
Clune - Nylander - Brown
Grabner - Spaling - Parenteau
Hunwick - Phaneuf
Gardiner - Reilly
Marincin - Harrington
Buffalo's projected lines (thanks to Die by the Blade)
Kane - R. O'Reilly - Ennis
Moulson - Eichel -Gionta
Reinhart - C. O'Reilly - Rodrigues
Deslauriers - Legwand - Foligno
Donovan - Franson
Colaicovo - Ristolainen
Guhle - Weber
The big question following tonight is -- who else gets cut?
Cute videos from TSN:
Rielly on Gardiner: ''A time comes in every relationship...''
"Maple Leafs defencemen Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner joke about their decision not to live together anymore, discuss how they feel about possibly not playing on the same pairing this season, and weigh in on what Mike Babcock has taught them since arriving."
Boyes' Leafs debut a long time coming
"Brad Boyes was disappointed when the Leafs traded him in 2003, but not as disappointed as his father was. To be from Toronto and to play for the Leafs is a special feeling, one that Boyes has waited a long time to experience."