After taking care of business in Ottawa last night, the Toronto Maple Leafs face a rested Sabres team as Frederik Andersen looks for his first win since January 29 tonight in Buffalo (7 p.m. ET, SNO).
Sheldon Keefe hinted yesterday that there might be some callups on the way with the Marlies spending the weekend in Belleville, and that is indeed the case: Both Mason Marchment, who received a brief call-up and appeared in three games in early January, and Egor Korshkov were recalled this morning.
A former 31st overall pick who was drafted a few weeks shy of his 20th birthday, Korshkov has traveled a long path to reach the NHL, including three post-draft seasons in the KHL and over half a season with the Marlies this year. The 6’4, 215-pound winger put himself back on the fan base’s radar with some impressive preseason performances last Fall and is scoring at .4 goals per game in the AHL this season (14 in 35). Marchment, meanwhile, has responded to his last callup not going as well as he would’ve liked by dominating offensively with 11 goals and 14 points in 13 AHL games, including seven goals in his last five.
The Leafs could use a shot in the arm at the bottom of their lineup. Bottom six forwards Frederik Gauthier (one goal in his last 11 games), Pierre Engvall (zero goals in his last 15), Dmytro Timashov (one goal in his last 15 games, Kyle Clifford (zero points in five games since the trade), and Jason Spezza (one point in his last seven games) are all running cold offensively.
The only confirmed change for the Leafs is that Frederik Andersen will start in net. The team decided it was best to give Andersen the extra time off yesterday after a rough first game back from injury; that said, he didn’t get much run support in that 3-2 loss to Dallas. Considering the number of games he’s stolen for the Leafs in the last three and a half seasons, hopefully the Leafs step up tonight and help Andersen get his game back on track.
Removing lopsided wins against two weak teams in Detroit and Anaheim, there hasn’t been much overall improvement in the Sabres’ game of late. On the season, the Sabres a very low-event defensive team, sitting last in xGF/60 and sixth in xGA/60. If we isolate for their last ten games, despite the aforementioned wins, the Sabres mirror their season results, sitting 30th in xGF/60 and seventh in xGA/60. The Leafs are 1-6-3 in back-to-back situations this season, but this is a good chance to start reversing that ugly trend.
Game Day Quotes
Sheldon Keefe on Egor Korshkov:
Well, he’s really worked to find his way and get comfortable in North America. When I was there, you could see he was a guy that was trying to figure a lot of things out in terms of the structure, the positioning, the language, the style of play, and those types of things.
In a short sample in the playoffs last year, he was able to adjust to it, but it’s a different animal in the regular season and in the long haul. The games that I’ve watched recently and the reports that I’ve got are that it’s starting to click for him. He’s playing with lots of confidence offensively and has been very good with the puck.
Obviously, the size and physicality that he brings — that’s there all the time. We need him to come here and play in a different role. If he’s going to play in the NHL, he’s going to have to start probably in a situation where he’s not going to play a lot, so he’s going to have to make those adjustments so he can really take advantage of every shift that he gets. We felt, when we needed extra bodies, that both he Marchment are two guys that were worthy of an opportunity.
Keefe on Andersen starting tonight:
We’re hoping that it helps him. Of course, we made the decision to give him the extra day yesterday to be prepared for today. We need to get him in the net and get him back to more reps and playing more regularly. We’re anxious to give him that chance.
Justin Holl on the win last night and getting the game ball from Jack Campbell:
It was pretty good in some aspects. We could have obviously been better in some aspects, too. We got the win and we were able to shut them down at the end of the game, so that was important. It was nice of Soup to give me the ball. It was nice — anytime you’re recognized by your teammates, it feels good.
Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines
#88 William Nylander – #34 Auston Matthews – #16 Mitch Marner
#15 Alex Kerfoot – #91 John Tavares – #11 Zach Hyman
#73 Kyle Clifford – #47 Pierre Engvall – #24 Kasperi Kapanen
#96 Egor Korshkov – #19 Jason Spezza – #20 Mason Marchment
#8 Jake Muzzin – #3 Justin Holl
#23 Travis Dermott – #94 Tyson Barrie
#38 Rasmus Sandin – #37 Timothy Liljegren
#31 Frederik Andersen (starter)
#36 Jack Campbell
*Game Time Decision
Scratched: Martin Marincin, Dmytro Timashov, Frederik Gauthier, Andreas Johnsson
Injured: Ilya Mikheyev, Morgan Rielly, Cody Ceci
Buffalo Sabres Projected Lines
#68 Victor Olofsson – #9 Jack Eichel – #23 Sam Reinhart
#13 Jimmy Vesey – #27 Curtis Lazar – #67 Michael Frolik
#53 Jeff Skinner – #71 Evan Rodriguez – #43 Connor Sheary
#28 Zemgus Girgensons – #22 Johan Larsson – #21 Kyle Okposo
#62 Brandon Montour – #55 Rasmus Ristolainen
#26 Rasmus Dahlin – #33 Colin Miller
#19 Jake McCabe – #10 Henri Jokiharju
#40 Carter Hutton
#30 Jonas Johansson
Injured: Linus Ullmark, Marcus Johansson, Tage Thompson, Vladimir Sobotka