Six points out of the last playoff spot in the East with only fifteen games to go. The Maple Leafs have their backs against the wall and now it’s time for one of the league’s youngest teams to grow up…and quickly.
Tonight’s matchup against the seventh place Sabres could be the biggest game of the year to this point and there is no doubt that the team must come away with two points in hand if they want to stay within striking distance of the eighth seed. Sjostrom is out with an upper-body injury and will be replaced on the fourth line by Jay Rosehill, while James Reimer will once again start between the pipes for the Buds. It should be a good one.
Maple Leafs Lineup:
– Ryan Miller will start tonight for the Sabres while backup Jonas Enroth is expected to get the nod tomorrow against the Ottawa Senators. For his career, Miller boasts a 24-9-0 record against the Leafs with a sparkling 2.18 GAA and .931 SV% with 2 shutouts.
– Paul Gaustad, Drew Stafford and Chris Butler are all expected to sit out tonight’s game. They will be replaced by Mark Parrish, Jochen Hecht and Mike Weber.
– To quote Mugatu from Zoolander, the Sabres are soooooo hot right now. They’ve been one of the league’s best teams since January 1st, going 18-8-4 over that span and have experienced similar dominance against the Maple Leafs. The Sabres are currently 4-1-1 on their season long road trip and have gone 7-1-1 in their last 9 games at the Air Canada Centre.
Quotables: (Ron Wilson)
“”They (The Sabres) are going be ready. Number one; they’ll be thinking let’s bury this team. One less team to worry about. They’ve been successful in Toronto a lot and they’ll feel good about the game. But we can’t worry about what they’re thinking about. (We need to) do the things we need to do to beat them.””
“We did beat (Sabres goalie Ryan) Miller last time and the key is to go into the game believing and feeling good and being energized. Thatâ€™s what we need â€” energy.â€
The Bottom Line:
The Maple Leafs have sputtered over their last three games and their playoff hopes will fade quickly if they can’t turn their fortunes around tonight. It’s time to take Charlie Sheen’s lead and get back to… WINNING!
Enjoy the game tonight folks.