The Leafs visit the place where the Leafs go to die tonight. They’re 1-8 – the win was a glorious Reimer shutout involving a Joey Crabb shorthanded goal at the end of the 2010-11 season – in the last nine at the HSBC/First Niagara Center and 23-36-3 all time in Buffalo. The Leafs lost three one-goal games in Buffalo last season before defeating the Sabres in all three at the ACC.
The Leafs played well against the Sabres but couldn’t solve Ryan Miller in a 2-1 loss last Monday. The Sabres have struggled since, dropping three straight (Carolina x 2, Washington).
The Buds will have to solve Miller in spite of a ragtag looking top six due to the MacArthur and Lupul injuries. For Buffalo, it sounds like Austrian Leaf-killer Thomas Vanek will indeed play. He has 29 points in 24 home outings against the Leafs.
Let’s hope for a Phil Kessel goal and a Leaf win tonight, even more so than usual. Winning in Buffalo would be great, some desperately needed silencing of the critics even better.
As you wait for tonight’s game, head on over to Jackpot Casino Capital to play online slots now and keep a feed window open for the MLHS GDT chat.
Copied over from Declan’s post this morning:
– Clarke MacArthur (finger) and Mike Komisarek (eye) will not play Tuesday. MacArthur had the nail torn off his pinky finger against the Rangers on Saturday and will sit as a precaution. Komisarek meanwhile, suffered a freak injury to his eye at the end of Monday’s practice. Somehow a chip of fiberglass ended up in his eyeball requiring a suture for the wound. While he was cleared to play, Komisarek will sit as a precaution. Randy Carlyle wouldn’t reveal exactly how the injury happened, but said it was ”one of those things in your life that you’d like to take back in your life I think, when you do something stupid.”
– *Jake Gardiner is an option on the Leafs defence, but might be on the outside looking in. Gardiner looked predictably off his game upon returning from a concussion last week. ”I don’t think there’s any pressure on us to play Jake Gardiner,” said Carlyle, asked about the need to get the 22-year-old back on track with game action. ”It’s a coach’s decision whether he plays or doesn’t play.” Gardiner played in one game with the Marlies, but was recalled back to the Leafs because of the AHL All-Star break. Carlyle said the organization had the option of returning him to the Marlies later in the week.
– James Reimer makes his second consecutive start in goal.
Tuesday’s Projected Lines
van Riemsdyk – Bozak – Kessel
Kulemin – Grabovski – McClement
Frattin – Kadri – Komarov
Brown – Steckel – Orr
Phaneuf – Kostka
Gunnarsson – Liles
Fraser – Franson