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Odds Taken from FanDuel Sportsbook
Toronto Maple Leafs
34-15-8 (2nd in Atlantic Division)
26-19-4 (4th in Atlantic Division)
Mitchell Marner, William Nylander (66)
Tage Thompson (71)
William Nylander (31)
Tage Thompson (36)
Mitchell Marner (46)
Rasmus Dahlin (45)
Michael Bunting (23)
Rasmus Dahlin (21)
Auston Matthews (4.2)
Shots (Per Game)
Tage Thompson (3.93)
The Toronto Maple Leafs will make the short trek to Buffalo, New York to face the Sabres for the second time this season. These teams first faced each other in mid-November, and the Maple Leafs crushed the Sabres 5-2. Toronto scored three first-period goals and controlled the game the rest of the way.
The Maple Leafs are having an excellent regular season and are in second place in the Atlantic Division. They will not catch up to the first-place Bruins, but a win today would be helpful and cement their lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Conversely, the Sabres are three places outside of the second Wild Card spot with 60 points. However, they are only points outside the Playoff race and have played a fewer games, so there is still time for them to make the Playoffs.
The Maple Leafs have quite a well-rounded team. Their goaltenders, Ilya Samsonov and Matt Murray, are not excellent, but they are consistent. Offensively, they have two players (Mitchell Marner and William Nylander) with 66 points and two other players (John Tavares and Auston Matthews) with 56 and 57 points, respectively. On the defensive side, the Maple Leafs are even better. They allow less than 2.7 goals per game and under 30 shots.
The Maple Leafs are led by Mitchell Marner, William Nylander, Auston Matthews, and John Tavares. These four players all have at least 20 goals and 56 points.
Ilya Samsonov and Joseph Woll are the two healthy goalies for the Maple Leafs. Samsonov is by far the better netminder but is listed as day-to-day. Regardless of who gets the start, they will be much better than the Sabres’ goaltenders.
The Sabres are not nearly as well-rounded as the Maple Leafs. They have arguably the best offense in the NHL, but their defense creates many problems. Buffalo allows 3.4 goals per game and has very few competent defensemen. The Sabres could also use some better goaltenders.
The Sabres have four players with at least 50 points this season. Their offense is quite strong in large part to these players, but they will need to continue performing at this level as the season goes on.
Ukko-Pekka Luukonen and Craig Anderson are the two Sabres goaltenders. Anderson is the better one of the two, but Luukonen will likely get the start. Luukonen has had his troubles this season, but will need to forget about them heading into this game.
The Maple Leafs are significantly better than the Sabres and perform well enough on the road. I have to play it safe and pick them to win. Bet on Toronto.
The Maple Leafs are the favorites but will only win if they score first and play tough defense.
The Maple Leafs may have some fans come down from Toronto for this game, but it will still be an away game from them. They will need to silence the Buffalo crowd, and the best way to do that is by scoring first.
The Maple Leafs' top two goaltenders, Ilya Samsonov and Matt Murray, are both on the injured list. Samsonov is listed as day-to-day, so he might play, but it is too early to tell. If he does end up missing this game, Toronto will look to Joseph Wall. Wall has performed well, but he has only played in two games this season. Toronto cannot expect him to continue performing at this level, so they must play strong defense and limit the Sabres’ shots.
The Sabres will have their hands full this game but can win if they draw penalties and slow down Auston Matthews.
The Sabres convert 25% of their power play opportunities. Much of their offense comes from the power play, so they must get on the ice and put a puck in the back of the net.
Auston Matthews continues to perform well for the Maple Leafs. The center has 26 goals and 31 assists in 50 games. He is electric with the puck in his hands, which is why the Sabres’ defensemen need to slow him down.
Morgan Reilly is the most impressive defenseman on the Maple Leafs. Reilly has two goals and 24 assists, but more importantly, leads the team in TOI at 22:34. The 28-year-old will have a tough task on his hands as he faces a Sabres team with one of the best offenses in the NHL. Reilly must take charge of the defensemen and figure out a way to slow down Buffalo.
It appears Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen will get the start for the Sabres. Luukonen has started the most games this season for the Sabres, but he is not their best netminder. The 23-year-old allows 3.41 goals per game and has a .898 save percentage. He will be facing a Maple Leafs team that shoots over 32 times a game, so he must step up.
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Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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