PreGame Skate: Toronto Maple Leafs

The Buffalo Sabres are away from home again tonight, traveling North to be entertained by the Toronto Maple Leafs.  So far the teams have split the season series – both teams winning their respective games in front of their home crowds.  The Buffalo Sabres need their offense to click and to start putting the puck in the net if they want to take the wind out of Toronto’s sales and stop the bleeding of their playoff skid.

With no player movement imminent, and no respite from the management team, what we have been seeing as the Buffalo Sabres for some time know has to develop a winning way and get over this slump that has them hurdled near the basement of the Eastern Conference . Sitting in 11th place, they are a mere 7 points from the bottom, (5 points out of a playoff spot, 12 points back on the division lead, 15 points back on the Conference lead).

While goaltending has a lot to do with where Buffalo stands in the playoff battle, their offensive woes are even worse.  Their elite players are playing like secondary players, and their secondary players have all but disappeared when it comes to the score sheet.  The youthful infusion of energy from Rochester has seemed to plateau, with prospects getting a little comfortable in Blue and Gold Sweaters.

Toronto is holding their own in the bottom of the playoff teams and the Sabres could use a huge victory over them to help bridge the gap.  These four point games that are usually huge late in the season are becoming more and more important earlier in the year as the playoff race seems to tighten up – oh right about the time the start of the season rolls around.

Tonight’s opponent has a very large weight on their shoulders as the city of Toronto is desperate for a winner after being hte butt of many hockey jokes over the last two (maybe three or four) generations of Leafs fans dump their hard earn Loonies to see their Blue and White fade out to the golf course every year.  Poised to make the playoffs once again, the team needs to hold onto their grasp of the seventh spot and try to climb higher – as they look to erase almost seven decades of losing culture.  I knew the Leafs were going to be good soon, I just didn’t anticipate it being this soon.

Puck drop tonight is at 7PM and based on the success of the first viewing party – the Buffalo Sabres will be hosting another “away” game tonight down at the arena.  Doors will open up at 6PM – and because of the wild popularity of the event last week, more concession stands will be opened to accommodate the larger than anticipated crowd for the game.

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