When Steve Ott was traded to the Buffalo Sabres – he was excited to be heading into a hockey market that plays in major hockey markets on an almost nightly basis. Because of the compact Eastern Conference schedule – the newest addition to the Buffalo Sabres will not see any of the opponents he is used to seeing from his old team.
He should be even more excited after the Buffalo Sabres completed last nights game with a big win over the Philadelphia Flyers – which started his with first goal in a blue and gold sweater.
The Buffalo Sabres need that winning to continue tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Tonights 7:00pm start against the Toronto Maple Leafs should respark a mildly dormant rivalry. Toronto comes into the game having a day of rest after opening the season with a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens. For the Sabres – they will be the ones with the tired legs when the third period rolls around.
The Maple Leafs are reshaping the landscape – ridding themselves of Brian Burke to try and get back on the winning path. The Maple Leafs have not made it to the playoffs since the last lockout wiped the entire season off the map. New GM Dave Nonis has started to put his mark on the team by signing Joffrey Lupul to a five year deal.
Tired legs should be limited for the Buffalo Sabres who will be riding the emotional high of beating Philadelphia 5-2. Thomas Vanek started the season off with a five point night, netting two goals (1 empty netter, gift wrapped by Jason Pominville) and adding three helpers.
To continue the success the Sabres had on Sunday afternoon, they need to knock the rest of the rust out of their game in the short drive up to Toronto. They also need young prospect Mikhail Grigorenko to be over the awe and wonder of playing in the NHL. On loan from the Quebec Ramparts for his five game tryout – with more ice time than Matt Ellis and John Scott – the eighteen year old Russian took two shot, drew a penalty, and was a -1 – not the greatest stats if he was super interested in staying with the big club full time this season.
If the Buffalo Sabres can continue to create chances the way they did against Philadelphia, the Buffalo Sabres should be able to make it 2-0 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
More weight has to be put on the schedule when visiting or hosting a divisional opponent – as the games mean so much more on a shortened season. Other games to watch on the out of town scoreboard for January 21st will be the Boston Bruins against the Winnipeg Jets and the Ottawa Senators hosting the Florida Panthers. A Sabres win coupled with a Boston and Ottawa loss will put the Sabres up in the division. No, in a shortened season its not to early to start watching the out of town scoreboard. The motto this year should be win often, and stay on top all year.
If you missed last nights action, check out the highlights.