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.
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