GDT: Sabres at Maple Leafs, 7:00pm (SNET)


Photo Credit: Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

“For those who fight for it, life has a flavor that the protected will never know.” Tonight’s scenario is pretty simple, win and the Leafs preserve a modest chance to get in, lose and we’re practically on the golf course. Of all the must win games this season, this one probably takes the cake, as the stakes couldn’t get any higher.

The players still believe there is a chance to make the playoffs so who are we to argue? But, in order to make things somewhat interesting again, they have to prove themselves on the ice. This is the sixth and final time we meet the Sabres this season. Let’s make it count.

Storyline: Season Story

In many ways, tonight’s game will either be a testament to how much this Leafs team has improved over the course of the year, or a dagger in the heart of every Leafs fan looking at another year of missing the playoffs. We hope the effort that will be shown tonight will do us proud and that win or lose, the team shows a huge will to win and an unseen level of desperation in their play. It’s not as if not winning this game means we’re no longer improved, but a win/high effort level tonight would mean a step further in the already rising development curve. It’s not as much about the playoffs as it is about growth.

Clawing Our Way

As I already mentioned, this game is do or die for the Leafs, a last gasp to make the postseason. If we win in regulation we close the gap to Buffalo to five points which is still improbable, but possible to overcome. On the other hand, if the Sabres win in regulation we can pretty much close the curtains on this season. The Leafs aren’t catching +9 or +8 and a overtime/SO win doesn’t mean very much either.

Keys To The Game

Playing With Desperation: No other way to put it. I certainly don’t think the Sabres are going to roll over on a chance to put the sword in one of the teams chasing them for that 8th seed in the Eastern Conference so I’m guessing your average effort is not going to do it. It’s also a matter of pride for this Buffalo team since they lost the last two games to Toronto and are looking for this game to get them tuned into that playoff mentality. History has shown that Buffalo is a thorn in the side of the Leafs and therefore our players need a good hop right from the puck drop. Play this game as it’s your last boys, fight for every puck, win every battle.

Buffalo’s goaltender of choice for tonight’s game will most probably be Ryan Miller. Why? This game is as important to Buffalo as it is to us and when coupled with the fact that Miller has a fantastic career record against the Leafs, the choice is pretty obvious. That and him being the overall All Star workhorse goalie and all. Not to mention Miller is 4-0-1 in his last five starts, posting a pair of shutouts allowing two goals or less in the five of his last six starts. All James Reimer has to do is outplay him. I think his smile tells you it’s not going to be a problem.

Previous Meetings

Mar 12, 2011 @TOR TOR 4 BUF 3

Feb 16, 2011 @BUF TOR 2 BUF 1

Feb 5, 2011 @BUF BUF 6 TOR 2

Nov 26, 2010 @BUF BUF 3 TOR 1

Nov 6, 2010 @TOR BUF 3 TOR 2


Per AM 640′s Jonas Siegel:

MacArthur – Grabovski – Kulemin

Lupul – Bozak – Kessel

Kadri – Boyce – Crabb

Sjostrom – Brent – Brown

Aulie – Phaneuf

Gunnarsson – Schenn

*Lashoff – Komisarek

*Ron Wilson may opt to get Matt Lashoff back in the lineup. Brett Lebda played less than nine minutes against the Red Wings on Saturday, including only one shift in the third period.