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Preview: Northern Neighbors

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The Sabres will face their neighbors from the North the Toronto Maple Leafs for the first time this season tonight

NHL: Preseason-Toronto Maple Leafs at Buffalo Sabres Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Game #66

Buffalo Sabres (20-34-11) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (39-21-7)

Puck drop: 7:30 p.m. EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY

TV: NBSCN

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Leafs blog: Pension Plan Puppets

What to Watch

1. Guhle and Criscuolo in

Both call-ups from the Amerks will play tonight. Brendan Guhle will be paired with Casey Nelson. While Kyle Criscuolo will center a line with Nick Baptiste and Benoit Pouliot.

2. Back to Johnson

Chad Johnson will start tonight for the Sabres. If he plays well again it’ll be interesting to see if he gets the majority of the starts in the final month of the season. He’s coming off of wins against the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning

3. Get Familiar

This is the first time these two clubs will meet all season. A pretty odd circumstance in the scheduling between division opponents. Including tonight these two teams will meet four times in the next five weeks.

Know Your Opponent

1. No Matthews

Like the Sabres the Leafs will be without their star player tonight. Auston Matthews is out with a shoulder injury. He’s progressing, but still some time away from returning to the lineup for Toronto.

2. Recent Struggles

The Leafs have lost three straight coming into tonight. Including a 5-2 loss at the hands of the Washington Capitals at the Naval Academy Stadium Series game. Mike Babcock ran his club through a hard practice in Buffalo yesterday. I would expect the visitors to start quick tonight.

Projected Lineup

28 Zemgus Girgensons – 90 Ryan O’Reilly – 23 Sam Reinhart

20 Scott Wilson – 22 Johan Larsson – 29 Jason Pominville

17 Jordan Nolan – 10 Jacob Josefson – 21 Kyle Okposo

67 Benoit Pouliot – 51 Kyle Criscuolo – 13 Nick Baptiste

6 Marco Scandella – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen

45 Brendan Guhle – 8 Casey Nelson

82 Nathan Beaulieu – 93 Victor Antipin

Starting Goaltender: 31 Chad Johnson