After hot starts that saw the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs at the top of the pile to start the season, injuries and realities have made tonights contest a battle of teams struggling to hold on for life in the playoff standings.
The Buffalo Sabres have had a rash of injuries that has kept the shuttle from Rochester to Buffalo economically viable for the foreseeable future. The lack of cohesiveness among the troops has got to be making its effect on the Sabres ability to string together any sort of chemistry. Coupled with on ice struggles of its supposed “core” and top six forwards, along with the less than average goaltending the Sabrse have been getting has been a recipe for disaster.
For the Toronto Maple Leafs – the struggles are compounded by the enhanced exposure they get for being the Leafs.
Both teams need the kick start of a win tonight in order to keep pace in the Eastern Conference.
Team owner and his crew have been doing a lot to the arena to make Buffalo and First Niagara Center a destination for free agents, instead of just another box to check when an agent is making his summertime phone calls. Despite its cavernous size, this upcoming off season he may want to consider enlarging the press box and adding amenities that players could use while injured. Thankfully for the boys in Blue and Gold they are getting one of their own back tonight in the form of Patrick Kaleta who was sidelined with a groin injury. What that means for the Rochester Americans is they are getting one of their star powers back in Marcus Foligno. While fans were eager to see Foligno in blue and gold (and a good old revivial of the Foligno Jump), fans will have to put that on the back burner for now. If Kaleta stays true to form, Foligno might want to keep an overnight bag packed, as he could find himself back in blue and gold as Kaleta’s style sidelines him more often than not.
Being sent back to the Rochester Americans is not necessarily a bad thing, and prospects have to get use to it. The Sabres are hoping that Brad Boyes is close to returning – and they would love to have the full complements of an opening night roster heading into the new year and a race to the playoffs.
The Sabres were able to hold on for victory in the first game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and could leapfrog back into the top eight with a win over their division rival tonight.