Buffalo Sabres (4-3-2) vs Toronto Maple Leafs (3-4-3)
Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY
TV: MSG-B, SNO | Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Leafs Blog: Pension Plan Puppets
1. Sabres' mild offense against Leafs' atrocious defense - what will give?
The Buffalo Sabres haven't exactly been setting the League on fire with goals galore, especially with Jack Eichel and Evander Kane out, averaging 2.44 goals per game. The Leafs meanwhile are giving up 3.70 goals per game.
The [cringe alert] MOO line of Moulson-O’Reilly-Okposo looks like a legitimate NHL top line, has a Corsi number of just under 50% and forms the core of the half-decent #1 power play unit. Will this line beat up on the Leafs tonight?
2. Can Buffalo continue to make life miserable for Toronto south of the border in spite of #hockeystats?
Sabres are 17-1-1 against the Leafs in the last 19 games in Buffalo. Let that Patriots-esque stat sink in.
While the Leafs' rebuild may be a year or two behind or ahead of the Sabres' version, depending on who you ask, they are playing some impressive free-wheeling hockey. In ten games, they have a Corsi differential of +40 (8th) on 517 shots for (leads the League), and their Corsi For as a team is 52.01%, good for ninth in the League. Buffalo are dead last at 45.75%, with a differential of -60 (28th).
3. Who will win the special teams battle?
Both teams are very close in the overall rankings for both power play and penalty kill. The Sabres are 6th and the Leafs 7th in power play efficiency (24.2% to 24.1%). On shorthanded performance, Buffalo ranks 11th at 83.9%, while Toronto is 18th at 81.3%.
Projected BUF Lines
26 Matt Moulson - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo
63 Tyler Ennis - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 23 Sam Reinhart
82 Marcus Foligno - 22 Johan Larsson - 12 Brian Gionta
56 Justin Bailey - 27 Derek Grant - 73 Nicholas Baptiste
4 Josh Gorges - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
77 Dmitry Kulikov - 34 Casey Nelson
29 Jake McCabe - 6 Cody Franson
Goal: 40 Robin Lehner