Leafs vs. Sabres: Game 65
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Scotiabank Arena
Opponent SBNation Site: Die By The Blade
After getting clowned by the New York Islanders, the Leafs will be hoping to, I don’t know, play better. Here to help with that are the Buffalo Sabres, a team that has largely stopped pretending it has playoff hopes and is now just a collection of people for Jack Eichel to yell at.
Maple Leafs (at practice from Kristen Shilton)
Zach Hyman - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Andreas Johnsson - Auston Matthews - Kasperi Kapanen
Patrick Marleau - William Nylander - Connor Brown
Nick Petan - Frederik Gauthier - Trevor Moore
Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Muzzin - Nikita Zaitsev
Martin Marincin - Igor Ozhiganov (or Justin Holl)
Frederik Andersen - starter
Connor Brown has reached a point where I’m so frustrated with his offence I feel despair inside when the play gets to his stick. He’s not even really a bad player, but he has the stoniest hands this side of Geodude and he goes long stretches where I struggle to notice or remember his positive attributes. I’m just in a bad spot right now with Connor Brown, y’all.
That said, Nazem Kadri is still working his way back from a concussion, so here we are. The Nylander line has done well generally from a shots perspective, so there’s that. Auston Matthews no-showed on Long Island and will hopefully show-show this time instead.
Okay, fun news: Nic Petan is drawing in! Our deadline acquisition is going to see if he can recapture that offensive magic that once made him a touted prospect. Unfortunately he fills our Tiny Guy quota so Tyler Ennis has to cycle out.
Our defence continues to be half a top four and a pair of sevens. Hopefully Jake Muzzin has a better night than he did in Long Island, but then, hopefully everyone on the team does. Actually, I assume the median night in Long Island is generally bad as a fact of life. Nowhere to go but up, really. Freddie gets the start.
Jeff Skinner - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart
Connor Sheary - Evan Rodrigues - Kyle Okposo
Scott Wilson - Casey Mittelstadt - Tage Thompson
Zegmus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Jason Pominville
Jake McCabe - Rasmus Ristolainen
Rasmus Dahlin - Zach Bogosian
Matt Hunwick - Brandon Montour
You probably remember the Sabres from last week, where the Leafs basically crushed them in three minutes. Buffalo does have an excellent top line, and Jack Eichel, all kidding aside, is a legitimate 1C even if he’s not as good as Auston Matthews. He’s got a couple of quality scoring wingers to work with, and the three of them are putting up big numbers. Rasmus Dahlin is a stud defenceman in the making, too, and is already closer to fulfilling that description than almost any 18-year-old I can remember.
The problem for Buffalo is there’s not much after that. Rookie Casey Mittelstadt was wildly oversold by starry-eyed Sabres fans and a couple of prospect writers, and while he’s likely still going to be a fine enough player, he wasn’t ready for prime time just yet. The team is probably regretting last summer’s boneheaded Ryan O’Reilly trade, when they gave up a dominant two-way centre who had several years left on his deal. In his absence, the Sabres have the scoring depth of a summer puddle.
Buffalo has also begun to realize that Rasmus Ristolainen is, how you say, bad. It’s time for a fun chart!
Being 6’4” and able to work a powerplay only covers up so much for so long, and the rumour is Buffalo might consider trading him. They ought to call Edmonton.
Carter Hutton is a Create-A-Player goalie in NHL 19. He is 81 in all of his stats. I have no opinion on him.
Look, even in their fractured state, the Leafs ought to win this game. We have long experience of Toronto playing down to its competition and the Sabres have the high-end talent to pull out a win. But the Leafs have more.
Go Leafs Go!