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Game Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs at Buffalo Sabres: The Matthews/Eichel rivalry starts now

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Matthews 34th NHL rivalry kicks off tonight, unless he hits another wall

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Edmonton Oilers v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

According to NHL rule 34.A Auston Matthews must be issued a rival with each team. It’s an easy choice with the Buffalo Sabres; the 2015 2nd overall draft pick (3rd overall if Matthews was in the draft) Jack Eichel.

The comparisons:

NHL.com compared the two last fall:

Danton Cole, who coached Matthews at the NTDP, said there are more similarities than differences.

"I think the power they both have; they are both very explosive," Cole said. "Auston maybe has a little more of a cerebral game and Jack will pound it through you a little bit. The thing that's very similar is that with a big time scorer or player, they are either a scorer or assist guy. I think both of them have the ability to be both of those things. Their size is very nice to have out on the ice."

Wow, Cole says Auston is mart and Echel is dumb. Win for us. Moving on.

The Toronto Sun looked at it right before the draft:

9. FEET (Agility/Footwork)

Auston can do some Pele-type things. It’s all improv. There’s nothing predetermined when he goes into a situation in that regard. He uses all body parts, Auston does. Eichel, when we’re talking about using your feet again, it’s all about length of ice than corner to the net. Jack’s more north and south.

Again, Auston is great, Eichel is basic. Again, we win.

And finally, my look at the two (apologies to Mike Fail but none to the Sun papers):

So you can see, based on science, that Auston Matthews is clearly the better player.

Oh, also, Matthews isn't broken, unlike Jack Eichel who is apparently made of tissue paper. He must have caught something from ol' Splodeybones Colaiacovo last season.

Now that the rivalry nonsense is over let’s take a look at tonight's game.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS AT BUFFALO SABRES
7:00PM - Bank Du Jour Arena, Buffalo, NY.
TV: Sportsnet, MSG, GCL
Radio: Sportsnet, TSN
SBN Best Buddy: Die by the Blade

The Toronto Maple Leafs are the most talked about team in the NHL despite a 3-4-3 record and host some of the top goal scorers and points havers, as well as the best selling jersey in the NHL and the NHL's rookie of the month.

Also they have Nikita Shoshnikov, Twitter star.

The Leafs are coming off a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers thanks to Nazem Kadri's ability to score goals and make Connor McDavid cry. Shutting down one of, if not the, best player sin the league is no easy feat but the Leafs did it, beat the best team in the western conference, and now we carry that into a game against a team that lost the tank race two years in a row.

The Buffalo Sabres have a 4-3-2 record but no one outside Tahnahwahndah is talking about them. They are essentially the same bottom feeding team as last year. They have done nothing of any significance except break their only good player, break another good player, and also broke Cody McCormack. Bravo. At least none of their players are running into walls....this year.

Tonight they kick off the first game of a new chapter in this cross border rivalry. Both teams are crawling towards respectability and being contenders at the same time. Neither team is scary to face this early in the season, so really the biggest worry Leafs fans have for this game is trying to cross the border to get into the game by 7 and home by 2AM.

In what should be a cake walk for the Maple Leafs, we have nothing to fear but fear itself.

Aw crap.