The Buffalo Sabres (9-24-3) got a nice three-day break to get healthy and enjoy the holidays. Buffalo came off a hard earned win against Phoenix on Monday night, and the Sabres ended the game with eleven forwards. Tonight, Buffalo looks to capture another win against their division rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs (18-16-5).
Monday night, the flu bug had bitten four players in the locker room. Linus Omark, Alex Sulzer, Marcus Foligno, and Ville Leino all missed the game with the flu. Drew Stafford was given a game misconduct on Monday, which resulted in the Sabres playing with eleven forwards by the end of the night.
“Especially being shorthanded the way we were, and a couple guys that played under the weather, they managed to get through it. It was a gutsy performance for sure,” said interim coach, Ted Nolan following Buffalo’s 2-1 win against Phoenix on Monday.
Buffalo has been able to find scoring and has put up some impressive offense in the past few weeks. Since December 12th against Ottawa, Buffalo is 4-2-1 putting up 14 goals in that span. The Sabres have been able to create more opportunities and be a better offensive team since Ted Nolan took over on November 13th.
The biggest issue for the Leafs has been goaltending. James Reimer is not happy with his situation in Toronto, especially after he was pulled after the first period on Saturday night against Detroit. Reimer gave up three goals on 12 shots in the period, and Leafs coach, Randy Carlyle, gave Reimer the hook. Jonathan Bernier is slowly winning over the starting job, helping the Leafs to two straight shootout appearances.
The Sabres will most likely have Omark, Leino, Sulzer, and Foligno back from the flu for Friday night. Cody Hodgson’s status is still up in the air, as he is still suffering from an upper-body injury. Cody McCormick (upper-body) and Kevin Porter (undisclosed) are on injured reserve for the Sabres.
For Toronto, they have been banged up as of late with two big name starters on injured reserve. David Bolland has been on injured reserve since early November with an ankle injury, and Tyler Bozak is also on injured reserve with a strained oblique. The only other injury is Trevor Smith, who is also on injured reserve with a broken hand suffered in last Tuesday’s loss against Florida.
Ryan Miller is expected to get the start in net for the Sabres again, while it will be Jonathan Bernier in the other net for Toronto. The last time these two played against each other in Toronto, they were both a part of the line brawl in a preseason game on September 22.
Opening faceoff is scheduled for 7:30 pm. The game can be seen on MSG and Bell-TV, and the game can be heard on WGR 550 AM.