Buffalo Sabres (10-24-3) at Toronto Maple Leafs (18-16-5)
|Date & Time||Friday December 27, 2013, 7:30 PM (EST)|
The Line: Toronto Maple Leafs -163 / Buffalo Sabres +148 --- Over/Under: 5
The Maple Leafs and Sabres square off in Toronto in each team’s first game back after a brief Christmas break.
The Sabres have had their struggles this season and will surely be at or near the basement for the duration of the second half of the regular season but if there is one lone bright spot of Buffalo’s season it has been their play against the Maple Leafs. Whether it is unsettled beef from their days as Northeast division rivals or the fact that the teams are so close in proximity they always seem to battle tooth and nail every time they meet regardless of the season’s juncture or each teams place in the league standings. Ryan Miller will get the start in goal for the Sabres as the likely candidate to start for the United States Olympic team has had a pretty decent season considering how terrible the team playing in front of him is. While he doesn’t have the victories, Miller is seemingly playing for a big contract at season’s end and a statement win against the Leafs could shine the light a little brighter.
Toronto is in a whirlwind right now as the once promising Leafs have slipped in the Atlantic division as they have lost 7 of their last 10 games and haven’t shown the same fight we saw earlier in the year. The Leafs have battled through injuries and suspensions all season long and while it can’t always be used as a scapegoat I think Toronto has a bit of an excuse as they have yet to roster a full lineup this year. Toronto’s goaltending has been special as both Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer have played like a number one but sometimes a great effort in the crease isn’t enough to secure two points. The Leafs have also been the subject of a constant spotlight as the HBO series 24/7 has been an added distraction and while the production value and content has been entertaining to watch it has surely made an impact on the Leafs’ on ice efforts. This should be another close contest between two bitter rivals in a spot where Buffalo isn’t getting enough respect but having them come into Toronto and leave with two points isn’t something I have a ton of confidence in. I do however expect Miller to show up for the Sabres and give his team a chance to win and as such I think this game stays under the total in another dog fight.