Sword Play: Buffalo Sabres – Toronto Maple Leafs Preview

Jean-Yves Ahern – US PRESSWIRE

The Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs play their fourth game of the season tonight, with the teams in very different positions.

The Sabres are 28th in the league and have struggled to find any sort of 60 minute game all season long, where the Leafs are in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Sabres have not had much success against the Leafs this season, posting a 1-1-1 record in the three prior contests, but since the last lockout Toronto has always seemed to be a slump-buster for the Sabres. If the Sabres are to make any semblance of a run toward the playoffs this season, a victory tonight against the Leafs is all but required.

But the road won’t be easy for the Sabres.

The team will be without leading scorer Thomas Vanek who is day-to-day with a hip injury. Vanek left Tuesday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens after being the unwilling recipient of a Christian Ehrhoff shot on the power play.

Ryan Miller is expected to return to the cage for the Sabres after watching Jhonas Enroth play extremely well for the second straight game against the Habs. Miller does tend to dominate against  Toronto though, so that move should come as no surprise.

In the Sabres’ favor? The Leafs have not been good as of late either, posting a 4-4-2 record in their last 10 games. Phil Kessel and Nazem Kadri have been hot, but the rest of the team has fell off a bit, especially Mikhail Grabovski who has only contributed two points, both assists, in the Leafs’ last 10 games.

Also good for the Sabres is the breaking news that Joffrey Lupul will be out for tonight’s contest as well as the Leafs’ next game due to a two-game suspension stemming from his hit on Victor Hedman last night.

Puck drop is at 7:00pm EST.

Follow me on Twitter for NHL and Sabres news all season: @SwordPlay18.

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