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Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Buffalo Sabres Preseason Preview: Too Real

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The preseason rumbles on as a version of the Sabres rolls into town.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

Preseason Game 3: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Buffalo Sabres

Scotiabank Arena, 7:00 PM

TV: Sportsnet One

After two mostly-boring games against the AHL’s Ottawa Senators, the Leafs are moving on to their next back-to-back: tonight they host Buffalo, and tomorrow night the Sabres return the favour. As per preseason standard, it looks like we’ll have completely different lineups each night and then a round of cuts on Sunday or Monday, before Monday night’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

In honour of Mitchell Marner: I’m about to make a lot of money.

Toronto Maple Leafs

We haven’t got specific line combinations here yet, as the group practicing this morning is for tomorrow night’s game—i.e. it’s the players not on this roster. Johnsson - Matthews - Nylander and Rielly - Ceci are fairly obvious combinations, and I would hazard a guess that Kerfoot and Mikheyev will play together. I would expect Marincin - Sandin, Kivihalme -Liljegren, and Rubins - Hollowell to make up the rest of the defence pairings, but that’s just speculation.

Care of The Athletic’s Jonas Siegel, we now have more complete line combos; to my mild surprise, Rubins and Liljegren look to be the third pair.

It’s all fog and nonsense right now, but the Leafs seem to be contemplating Sandin as a current NHL option more than I thought they would. They’ve been playing him on the right side, something that is useful at the NHL level but not so much in the AHL, where Toronto actually has a surplus of RHD. And they’ve been putting him with players who seem like they might make the third pair. There are still a lot of factors suggesting he’ll end up being sent down, the most prominent being that he has an ELC contract which can slide another year. But it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Buffalo Sabres

In a not-all-that-surprising twist, the Sabres look to be saving their best players for the home game tomorrow night, and so the Leafs are left to confront this preseason-ass roster. Having lost twice in two nights to the Senators, who are not an NHL team at the best of times, that’s no reason to get complacent. But even half a Leafs’ lineup should be able to beat a group headlined by Casey Middling Stats and various wingers who got paid after good centres propped up their scoring. In conclusion, I think the Sabres will miss the playoffs again this year and that’s the best for everyone involved, except Buffalo.

Go Leafs Go!