Who: Toronto Maple Leafs (11-6-1) at Buffalo Sabres (4-15-1)
Where: First Niagara Center (Buffalo, NY)
When: 7:00 PM ET
Where to watch: Sportsnet Ontario, MSG and Bell TV
Where to listen: Sportsnet 590 The Fan, WGR 550
Enemy blog: Sabre Noise
- Tonight marks the first game of the season for new Sabres head coach Ted Nolan, who hasn’t coached in the NHL since 2008 with the New York Islanders. He won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year in 1996-97 with the Sabres. Former Sabres star player and Hall of Famer Pat Lafontaine was also brought in to be the general manager after both Ron Rolston and Darcy Regier were fired Wednesday. You can be sure the team will come out looking to impress their new bosses tonight.
- The timing of the firings was a little perplexing, considering the Sabres were coming off their first home win of the season, albeit a shootout victory against the Los Angeles Kings Tuesday night. Make no mistake though; the Sabres are a struggling hockey team. Besides Matt Moulson and Cody Hodgson, no player on the team has more than six points. The Sabres are also the only team worse than the Leafs in terms of possession statistics. Their goaltending is decent, but that’s really the only positive for this team right now.
- The Leafs have had their own troubles recently, scoring only four goals in their last four games. Their issues were magnified when Nazem Kadri was suspended for three games yesterday. With Tyler Bozak and Dave Bolland out with injuries, the Leafs had to sign Jerred Smithson to a pro contract, and recalled Toronto Marlies’ captain Trevor Smith today. Randy Carlyle said he’ll play Smith in an offensive role tonight, which I assume means he’s going to play on the second line and will get power-play time as well. Smith has 12 points in seven games with the Marlies but has played exclusively on the fourth line in stints with the Leafs.
- Be sure to join us for the live thread during the game tonight.