Toronto Maple Leafs vs Buffalo Sabres :
NHL Hockey: Monday, April 2, 2018 at 7:00 pm (Air Canada Centre)
The Sabres haven’t had much to play for over the last two months or so as they prepare for another long offseason and important entry draft but they have been playing much better of late and have put up some excellent efforts against the Maple Leafs this season. Buffalo snapped Toronto’s lengthy winning streak at the ACC a couple weeks back and they will be out for an encore here as the Buds try to improve their position in the Atlantic division and with Robin Lehner getting the nod here against Curtis McElhinney they could very well pull it off. Buffalo comes into tonight’s game with a 3-10 mark in their last 13 games playing on one day’s rest and are a miserable 4-13 in their last 21 games in Toronto so they are going to have to put forth a strong effort to turn the tide against the Leafs in this spot.
The Maple Leafs meanwhile have had another strong season and are going back to the Eastern Conference playoffs and while they are likely slated into the third seed in the Atlantic division there is still an outside shot they can catch the Lightning for second place. Toronto has one of the league’s best records on home ice with a 27-10-2 but they are coming off a loss at the ACC against a very good Winnipeg Jets side and will be looking for a chance to redeem themselves with just three games left in the regular season.
The Sabres are 1-4 in their last five after allowing five or more goals in their previous game and are 14-37 in their last 51 games following a win while the Leafs are 19-7 in their last 26 home games and are 13-4 in their last 17 games at home against the Sabres. Toronto is going to the playoffs and Buffalo is in the mix for the top draft pick and while the Sabres are coming off a huge win against the Preds I see them reverting back to reality in this spot.
The Maple Leafs look to avoid a losing streak after being defeated in their last game. The Toronto Maple Leafs played against the Winnipeg Jets in their last game and lost by two at home, 3-1. In 58 minutes Curtis McElhinney collected 26 saves on 29 shot attempts, an 89.7% save percentage. He had 3 power play saves, 1 shorthanded save and 22 even saves. Patrick Marleau had one goal on three shots in 18:13 minutes.
Toronto ranks #3 in the Atlantic division, #4 in the Eastern conference and #7 in the NHL, with 101 points on the season. The Maple Leafs rank well in face-offs taken (#1), win percentage when scoring first (#2) and power play percentage (#3). The team needs work on power play opportunities (#29), shots allowed (#28) and win percentage when opponent scores first (#21).