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Maple Leafs vs. Sabres pre-game notes

The Toronto Maple Leafs will play their 52nd game of the 2010-2011 season tonight as they travel down the QEW to face Northeast Division rival, Buffalo. A win tonight would be the Maple Leafs' third straight, while a loss tonight for the Sabres would be their second straight.

The game will begin just after 7 PM. It can be seen on CBC in Canada and MSG in the United States. It can be heard on Toronto radio AM640.


Last 10 games: 4-5-1

The record that you see above may not look all that impressive, however the Maple Leafs have been heating up lately with two consecutive victories.

The first one, against Florida, almost never happened. The Maple Leafs were leading late in the third when Cory Stillman tied it at three to send the game to overtime. No one scored in the extra frame, but Colby Armstrong scored on a slick backhand move to help hold off the Panthers.

The second came on Thursday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. Clarke MacArthur, Darryl Boyce and Kris Versteeg all scored, while goaltender James Reimer made 27 saves to collect his first career NHL shutout, which was also the Maple Leafs' first shutout of the season.

Reimer will get the start in goal tonight, although head coach Ron Wilson doesn't necessarily plan to stick with him for the stretch run.

"I have no hesitation to play him or (J.S. Giguere)," Wilson said. "I think it's horses for courses right now."

In nine games this season, Reimer has gone 5-3-0 with a goals against average of 1.96 and a save percentage of .940.

Versteeg has scored in back-to-back games for the Maple Leafs after going seven games without a goal. Phil Kessel, meanwhile, is starting to get good scoring chances again but his goalless streak was extended to nine games after failing to score on Thursday night.

Darryl Boyce will play tonight despite suffering this injury on Thursday night. Boyce went face first into the photographer's hole in the glass.

The Leafs will once again be without tough guy Colton Orr, who is still on the IR due to a concussion. Mike Brown is also expected to miss tonight's game after taking a big hit from Florida's Keaton Ellerby on Tuesday night.


Last 10 games: 6-4-0

The Sabres are heating up at the right time; they have won six of their last ten games and won four of five games from January 18-25.

They blew a two goal lead last night against the Pittsburgh Penguins in what was their first game back from the All-Star break. They scored twice in the first seven minutes, but failed to score after that eventually losing 3-2. Despite allowing three goals, Sabres goalie Ryan Miller stopped 36 shots.

Miller is 21-15-4 in 41 games this season with a GAA of 2.69 and a SV% of .913. He is expected to start tonight for Buffalo.

The Sabres will be without Patrick Kaleta and Derek Roy tonight. Kaleta broke his left hand, while Roy had leg surgery and will miss the remainder of the season.

Don't miss a single blog post by following me on Twitter @LukasHardonk for more Maple Leafs coverage, including news, rumours and game updates.


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