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Toronto Maple Leafs 2021-22 opponent preview: Buffalo Sabres

Welcome back to mine Toronto Maple Leafs The opponent preview series. In this series, I will preview every team in the Atlantic Division and break down how they play against the Maple Leafs. The purpose of this series is to let people understand how the Atlantic Division teams are built for the 2021-22 season, especially considering that the Maple Leafs has not played against most of these teams since the 2019-20 season.

related: Maple Leafs 2021-22 opponent preview: Boston Bruins

Last time, I broke down how the Maple Leafs team Boston Bruins. You can find that article on it. This week, I will continue in alphabetical order to see how the Maple Leafs will play against the Buffalo Sabres in the 2021-22 season.

Buffalo Sabre

2020-21 record: 15-34-7 (37 points, missed the playoffs)

Noteworthy additions: Robert Hager, Craig Anderson, Pooh Hinostrosa, Brandon Davidson, Will Butcher, Mark Pasek

Significant loss: Rasmus Ristolainen, Sam Reinhardt, Linus Ulmark, Jack McCabe, Carter Hutton, Riley Shehan

Draft for 2021: Owen Ball, Isaac Rosen, Proho Polpatov, Alexander Kisakoff, Steven Sadarian, Josh Bloom, Oliver Nardo, Weir Jamie Mahara, William von Baniko, Nikita Novikov, Tyson Kozak

2019-20 season series: 2-2-0 (score 13-15)

this Buffalo Sabre In the past ten years, their fans have had a harder time than any other NHL team. Considering that I am a writer for the Maple Leafs, this shows a lot. After experiencing a ridiculously bad 2020-21 season, they have lost a record 18 consecutive games and have not had star forward Jack Eichel for most of the season, but they have entered 2021. In the -22 season, their lineup looked to some extent worse than what it did last season. However, when the two teams play, they always make the life of the Maple Leafs difficult, and their 2019-20 season series proves this.

Sabres lost a lot of offense, Eichel’s future is in doubt

After the offseason, the Sabres offense got worse.Their biggest loss is Sam Reinhardt, Their biggest addition is Vinnie Hinostroza. However, I suspect that the offseason action is currently the biggest concern of fans.The franchise center and captain Jack Eichel are still involved In his surgical dispute Together with Sabres, even if they finally solved the problem, the relationship between Eichel and the club was damaged beyond repair.

Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres (Jess Starr/Hockey writer)

He injured his neck on March 7, and the Sabres did not allow him to undergo surgery to repair herniated disc has always been an offseason story.His name is involved Almost all trading rumors You can think of it, and it looks like he is still not ready to start this season. Like I said, even if this situation is finally resolved, I don’t think he will become Saber next time he plays. Obviously, this is just speculation, but I can’t imagine that they are at their best now.

How to match the maple leaves?

I almost feel bad writing this paragraph, but Sabre’s offense has no chance to match Toronto’s offense.If they start the season without Eichel, they will have to rely on Victor Olofsson, Casey Mittelstadt and Dylan Cosens For points. The former two are stable players, while the latter has only one NHL season.As Toronto boasted like Alston Matthews, Mitch Mana, William Niland and John Tavares, there is no competition between the two teams.

Sabres’ defense lost two big chunks

In all of Eichel’s plays, Sabres traded Rasmus Ristolainen to Philadelphia flyerAlthough Ristolainen has regressed in recent years, he has been the leading player in the top four Sabres since he was drafted. Although they did receive the Swedish D man Robert Haag in return, he did not make up for the loss of other works such as Ristolainen and Jack McCabe.

Robert hagg philadelphia flyer
Former Philadelphia Flyers guard Robert Haag will join the Buffalo Sabres this year (Amy Owen / Hockey writer)

With the elimination of Ristolainen and McCabe, and the 2021 No. 1 pick Owen Power returned to the University of Michigan, Rasmus Darling The work will be done for him on the back end. Even so, due to the poor performance of the Sabres, the No. 1 pick in 2018 seems to have taken a step backwards in last year’s development.Add Hagg Brandon Davidson should provide in-depth help on the backend, but there is not much to write about.

How to match the maple leaves?

Once again, the Maple Leafs defense blew the Sabres defense to the surface. Interestingly, in previous years, this may have been closer to a battle. As far as I can remember, the Maple Leafs does not have a good defensive core.In the past two years alone, with TJ Brodie and Jack Muzin On the back end, is the Maple Leafs defensive team better than we are used to? Sabres simply does not have the back-end experience and skills to compete with Toronto.

Sabres’ goalkeeper was significantly downgraded

Since Echel was restricted to 21 games last year, Linus Ulmark was one of the only factors preventing the Sabres from being worse than them. His record in the 2020-21 season is 9-6-3, save rate (SV%) is 0.917, and average goals scored (GAA) is 2.63. This is the Vezina data of his team.

Senator Craig Anderson, Ottawa
Craig Anderson, former Ottawa Senators goalkeeper (Amy Owen / Hockey writer)

With Ulmark leaving the Bears and replacing Carter Hutton, the Sabres will look for veterans Craig Anderson And skilled worker Aaron Dell to fill the gaps between the pipes. Anderson performed well in the 2020-21 season, but his sample size is limited to six games, and he is also 40 years old. The last time his GAA was below 3.00 was in the 2016-17 season. Therefore, it goes without saying that the loss of Ulmark is a major event.

How to match the maple leaves?

At this point, I feel that my record has been broken, but the Maple Leafs has a better goalkeeper between the two teams. Jack Campbell And Peter Mrazek (Petr Mrazek) has the potential to become a very good partner in Toronto, the main concern is the ability of the two goalkeepers to stay healthy. However, when playing against Buffalo, they should feel good about their odds.

Head coach duel: Sheldon Keef VS Don Granato

This is the first game that can be played honestly. Both Granato and Keefe are relatively inexperienced as head coaches. Obviously, at the forefront, Keef seems to be a better coach because he has achieved more success in the regular season. But you have to consider the team he had to work with and the team in Granato.

Buffalo Sabres Don Granato Dylan Cozens
Buffalo Sabres interim head coach Don Granato talks with Dylan Cosens (Bill Wipert/NHLI via Getty Images)

Saber strategy Improve under Granato, Hit a 9-16-3 record, not Ralph Kreuger’s 6-18-4 record before his dismissal. Granato and Keefe have never coached each other before, so we must revisit this after the end of the season.

Sabre Perspective

Jack Quinn

Sabres’ 8th overall pick in 2020 is one of many Ontario Hockey League (OHL) players who used the system to spend a year in the American Hockey League (AHL) and cancelled the 2020-21 OHL season.

Jack Quinn, Ottawa 67 years old
Buffalo Sabres prospect Jack Quinn (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

He was impressed with a small sample of 9 points in 15 games and saw that he will turn 20 on September 19th. He should be the main calling option for the Sabres, unless there is anything in front of him. Injury. That is, if he does not let the team leave the camp.

Uko-Pekka Lukonen

Lukonen is still the best goalkeeper for the Sabres. Needless to say, if one of Anderson or Dell falls to the ground due to injury, the 22-year-old will be the first to replace them. Considering Anderson’s age and Dell’s status as a skilled substitute/third goalkeeper, I can hardly imagine a situation where these two will be tandem at the end of the year, so the ball will be on Lukonen’s court to ensure full-time NHL work and strong training camp.

Matthias Samuelson

With McCabe and Ristolainen leaving at the back end, the Sabres need someone to fill the gap as a physical two-way defender, and Samuelson meets the requirements. His offensive data in the AHL rookie season is impressive, scoring 13 points in 23 games, so it is entirely possible for him to get the team out. Otherwise, if the defender falls to the ground injured, he will almost certainly be one of the first to be called.


November 13, 2021 @BUFARO
March 2, 2022 vs. Buffalo
Against Buffalo on April 12, 2022

2021-22 season prediction: Atlantic eighth

The Sabres are undoubtedly the worst team in the Atlantic Division. Even if they share the benefits of a division with other weak teams such as the Detroit Red Wings and the Ottawa Senators, the Sabres do not have the talent to compete with other teams at all, even if they get Eichel back at some point.

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This is a dark period in Buffalo, although they may give their fans some expectations Potential customers should like As the season progressed, Quinn, Lukkonen and Samuelson secured full-time places, and they didn’t even have a chance to compete for a spot in the playoffs.

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