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Game preview: Will the Sabres rebuild ever end?

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No. It won’t.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

Buffalo Sabres at Toronto Maple Leafs

Time: 7:00PM

Location: Scotiabank Arena, underneath some weird guy

Broadcast/Streaming: TSN4, TVA Sports, NHL Live

Opponent SBNation Site: Die by the Blade

Those poor, poor, Buffalo Sabres. It has been 12 years since the Sabres lost to the Ottawa Senators in the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals. After that, they missed the playoffs twice, and then had two first round exits in a row. Then, the retooling phase was over. It was full on tank to rebuild. They lost the lottery for Aaron Ekblad; they lost the lottery for Connor McDavid; they lost the lottery for Auston Matthews; finally, in year five of lying on the bottom of the Atlantic they won! Just after the ELCs for compensation picks Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel have expired.

The good news is that the Sabres will not finish at the bottom of the conference again.

The better news is that they still won’t make the playoffs!

The Sabres are sitting in the second spot outside the wild card, just behind the Pittsburgh Penguins, and are six points out of a playoff spot and 17 points ahead of the last place Ottawa Senators. They have not had a positive goal differential in seven seasons, they have had five head coaches - Lindy Ruff, Ron Rolston, Ted Nolan, Dan Blysma, and Phil Housley - and are on their third GM - Darcy Regier, friend of PPP Tim Murray, and Jason Botterhill.

The Sabres rebuild is never ending, and I for one appreciate the cheap tickets in March.

The Maple Leafs are coming off a 6-3 comeback win over the Montreal Canadiens, and on a four-game win streak with victories over the Penguins, Ducks, Senators, and of course, Canadiens. It’s been a rough ride, and the team has lost Nazem Kadri to injury, and Jake Gardiner is having back issues flare up, but we must remember - our rebuild only lasted half the amount of time.

Maple Leafs

from morning skate

Forward Lines

Zach Hyman - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Andreas Johnsson - Auston Matthews - Kasperi Kapanen
Patrick Marleau - William Nylander Connor Brown
Par Lindholm - Frederik Gauthier - Tyler Ennis

Defence Pairings

Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner - Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Muzzin - Travis Dermott

Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen
Garret Sparks

Buffalo Sabres lines

Brandon Montour is not expected to play today.

Forward Lines

Jeff Skinner - Jack Eichel - Jason Pominville
Conor Sheary - Evan Rodrigues - Sam Reinhart
Tage Thompson - Vladimir Sobotka - Daniel O’Regan
Scott Wilson - Johan Larsson - Zemgus Girgensons

Defence Pairings

Jake McCabe - Rasmus Ristolainen
Rasmus Dahlin - Zach Bogosian
Nathan Beaulieu - Brandon Montour

Goaltenders

Carter Hutton
Linus Ullmark


Update on the Sabres lines:

Round one vs Boston Bruins

Toronto Team Boston
Toronto Team Boston
3-2 Record 2-3
14GF - 14GA Goal Differential 14GF - 14GA
27.3% - 5th Power Play 35.7% - 2nd
64.3% - 15th Penalty Kill 72.7% - 12th
Auston Matthews - 4 Most Goals Bergeron, Krejci, Pastrnak, Marchand, Coyle - 2
Morgan Rielly - 4 Most Assists Brad Marchand - 4
Auston Matthews - 5 Most Points Brad Marchand - 6
Nazem Kadri - 19 Most PM Charlie McAvoy - 6
Morgan Rielly - 24:34/G TOI Leader Charlie McAvoy - 16
Frederik Andersen - .925sv% Starting Goalie Tuukka Rask - .922sv%

There are several keys to winning this game, but the most important remains true: Score more goals than your opponent. The rest are just ways to make doing that easier; and easy is for those who live in perpetual rebuilds. Moving on from that, both mentally and actually, is hard.