The Toronto Maple Leafs are set to do battle at the Air Canada Centre when the Buffalo Sabres come into town on Saturday and will be looking to pick up two big points in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Leafs could be looking at a new franchise mark when their young guns hit the ice as they’ve combined for 206 total points this season. There’s no other team that comes even close to matching that, but with one point they will match the franchise record for combined points by rookies. Obviously, two points by the team’s first-year players will set a new team record.
#Leafs rookies have combined for 206 points this season. The franchise record for points by rookies is 207, set in 1982-83.
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) February 10, 2017
Mitch Marner leads the way with 46 points this season, while Auston Matthews is following him up with 44 of his own. William Nylander (36), Nikita Zaitsev (24) and Connor Brown (23) are also having very good seasons for the Leafs.
The Sabres will likely be sellers at the deadline, but expect them to hold onto their core players. Jack Eichel has 26 points this season in 33 games played after starting the year on injured reserve. While the Sabres aren’t having as much success this season as the Leafs, Kyle Okposo has had a good first season with Buffalo. He’s played all 53 games this year with 35 points to show for it.
While anything can happen when these two teams meet, numbers from this season are playing into favour with the Leafs. But in the battle of the Q.E.W., numbers don’t mean much.
Buffalo Sabres at Toronto Maple Leafs
Air Canada Centre – 7:00 p.m. EST
Broadcast channels – CBC and MSG-B
2016-17 Season Series:
November 3 – Maple Leafs 2 – Sabres 1
January 17 – Maple Leafs 4 – Sabres 3
Buffalo Sabres – 22-22-10 – 54 Points
Road Record: 9-13-6
Hot Players: Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Ennis and Jack Eichel
Key Injuries: Zach Bogosian, William Carrier, Cody Franson, Zemgus Girgensons and Johan Larsson
Justin Bailey-Ryan O’Reilly-Kyle Okposo
Evander Kane-Jack Eichel-Sam Reinhart
Marcus Foligno-Evan Rodrigues-Brian Gionta
Matt Moulson-Derek Grant-Tyler Ennis
Jake McCabe-Rasmus Ristolainen
Josh Gorges-Dmitry Kulikov
Justin Falk-Taylor Fedun
Toronto Maple Leafs – 25-17-11 – 61 Points
Home Record: 13-8-4
Hot Players: Mitch Marner, Nazem Kadri and Auston Matthews
Key Injuries: Joffrey Lupul and Nikita Soshnikov
Leo Komarov-Nazem Kadri-William Nylander
James van Riemsdyk-Tyler Bozak-Mitch Marner
Zach Hyman-Auston Matthews-Connor Brown
Matt Martin-Ben Smith-Josh Leivo
Morgan Rielly-Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner-Connor Carrick
Matt Hunwick-Roman Polak
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap]Saturday’s game will be the third meeting of the season between the Leafs and Sabres. The Leafs have taken the first two games by a combined score of 6-4. Marner’s led the way for the Leafs against Buffalo this season with two goals and an assist so far.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap]Speaking of Marner, the 19-year-old has three goals and seven points in his last six games. He currently leads his team in assists (32) and points (46) – just two points higher than Matthews.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap]The Leafs and Sabres have met 203 times over their existence. Buffalo holds the advantage in the all-time series 111-66-18-8, outscoring the Leafs 726 to 565.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap]Tyler Ennis sits just one goal behind Michael Peca (96) for 32nd on the Sabres all-time list. So far this season, Ennis has just three goals and seven points in 23 games.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]5)[/miptheme_dropcap]The Leafs rookies have the chance to set yet another record on Saturday and all it will take is two point. The rookies have combined for 206 points so far this season. The franchise record was set back in 1982-83 when Leafs’ rookies combined for 207.
Another major divisional matchup – with most of the Eastern Conference still within reach of the playoffs – both the Leafs and Sabres will be looking to lock up two more points. The Leafs have a chance to make ground on the Senators and steer further away from the Bruins. The Sabres, who are a long shot to taste playoff glory, will just look to keep their chances alive.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.