The Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres are trending in different directions with the Leafs looking for a 5th straight win tonight and the Sabres looking to avoid a 4th straight loss. However, they do have a couple of things in common.
One, both have been terrible defensively lately.
A couple of examples:
The following goal shows just how ineffective the Sabres have been in their own zone. The Sabres get caught puck watching and let Dan Girardi walk right in and get two high-quality shots off before anyone gets near him. At that point, the puck is already in the back of the net.
The Leafs have been just as guilty of puck-watching. On this goal they get beat to two straight loose pucks and then get beat 2 on 3 down low off a slow switch and bad coverage, leaving Eric Staal wide-open in the slot.
The other common trait between the two teams, as they get set to face-off in Buffalo, stellar goaltending.
Without the incredible play of Frederik Andersen, the Leafs would not be in a position to rattle off a 5th straight win. On the other side, the Sabres have been riding hot goaltending as well and while it hasn’t resulted in wins lately, it has kept games close against strong competition.
Both teams have game breakers who can be extremely dangerous when given time to create offensive opportunities. If both teams continue to fall asleep in their defensive zone coverage, this game could easily start to look like a pond hockey game with a race to see who can score the most goals.
(Photograph by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)