The Toronto Maple Leafs (25-18-11) couldn’t overcome a three goal first period and fell 3-1 to the Buffalo Sabres (23-22-10) on Saturday night.
Thoughts and Observations
was everywhere in this game. He was easily the Leafs best player and he single-handedly tried to will Toronto to a comeback, which was highlighted by his magnificent wrap-around goal in the second period. Marner even got into a but of a tussle with Sabres defencemanRasmus Ristolainen
after he jumped in to defendAuston Matthews
after Ristolainen tried to punch Matthews. Marner eventually wrestled Ristolainen to the ice and nothing serious came from the incident. Again, Marner was the Leafs best player in this game and he looked like a veteran out there. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is still amazed at what Marner is accomplishing as a 19-year-old.
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In his 500th career NHL game,James van Riemsdyk
got into his third career NHL fight.
Toronto’s rookies set a new franchise record for total combined points on Saturday with 208 points, breaking the old record of 207 that was set during the 1982-83 season.
Hearing how shocked Babcock was after the game when he said he was disappointed with the team’s readiness to play, I must admit, I was mildly concerned. Babcock is a great motivator, though, so perhaps he’s just trying to light a fire under his players? Or, perhaps I’m trying to talk myself out of being concerned, which is more than likely the case.
Stat of the Night
The first period has been crucial for the Maple Leafs this season. The team has a 1-12-2 record when trailing after the first and they have trailed by three or more goals after the first period five times this season (they are 0-5 in those games).
It’s tough to say exactly what it is, but the Maple Leafs have had trouble starting games this year. You hear Babcock continuously talk about wanting guys to compete, bring energy, play hard, you know, all those good things you expect from a professional hockey player. Unfortunately for the Leafs, they’ve had trouble implementing those intangibles early on in games.
The Maple Leafs will complete their four-game home stand on Tuesday night when they welcome the New York Islanders (24-19-10) to the Air Canada Centre. The Islanders lost 3-0 to the Senators on Saturday and play the Avalanche at home on Sunday, which is an odd quirk in the schedule since most teams would play Toronto or Montreal after they played Ottawa.
You can pretty much say this for every upcoming Leafs game now, but with the Eastern Conference standings being so tight (seven points separates last place from a Wild Card spot), Tuesday’s game is an important one. As of Saturday night, the Islanders are only three points back of the Leafs, while the Flyers, Panthers and Lightning are all nipping at the Leafs’ heels too.
With 15 home games remaining, the Toronto will need to take care of business on home ice if they are going to earn a playoff spot.
What did you think of the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.