Buffalo Sabres (+105) at the Toronto Maple Leafs (-114) Total: 5.5
On Thursday, the 10-7-0-0 Toronto Maple Leafs will match up at home in the Air Canada Centre against the 6-10-1-0 Buffalo Sabres, currently in fifth place in the Northeast division. The Sabres will have a new coach at the helm. Lindy Ruff, in charge of Buffalo since 1997, was fired on Tuesday after the team lost 2-1 at home to Winnipeg. Ruff was the franchise’s winningest coach (571-432-162) and the NHL’s longest active-serving coach with one team.
Among North America’s four major pro sports, Ruff’s tenure was second only behind Gregg Popovich, who’s been coach of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs since 1996. In the NHL alone, there had been 170 coaching changes since Ruff was hired on July 21, 1997.
Ron Rolston takes over the team as interim coach. Rolston was in his second season with the Rochester Americans, and spent seven years as coach of USA Hockey’s National Team development program. He lead the United States Under 18 hockey team to three gold medals (2005, 2009, 2011). Rolston went 36-26-10-4 last season in leading Rochester to the playoffs. This season, the Americans (27-18-2-1) are in second in the North Division and sixth in the Western Conference.
“His teams play with structure, discipline. They have a work ethic,” Buffalo General Manager Darcy Regier said. “He has them playing very good hockey, so I think you’ll see some of those traits.”
“The last game was quite honestly a tipping point. And it was evident to me that we were searching for answers to too many questions,” Regier said. “I think we were making some strides, but in the end, for every two steps forward, it was one step back, and sometimes not that. ”
The Sabres have scored 2.6 goals per game away from home in 2013 while giving up 3.5 goals to its opponents, enough to earn Buffalo a 3-5-0 record away from the HSBC Arena. Buffalo is averaging 27.5 shots per game as visitors, and allowing 34.4 shots to its opponents. Buffalo is 3-7-0 in its last ten games The Sabres have gone over in 10 of its 17 games in 2013.
Despite a 4-2 setback to Tampa Bay on Tuesday night, the Maple Leafs (10-7-0) have enjoyed a solid start to the shortened season. Toronto Coach Randy Carlyle wasn’t too happy with the effort on Tuesday.
“I don’t know if we demonstrated enough determination or desperation until the last 7 minutes of the hockey game,” Carlyle said. “It seemed like we were a flat group for a good period of the game, but at one point I looked up, it was 2-1 after two periods, and we’d only given up 10 shots. If it wasn’t for the lopsided number of power plays, I don’t know if we would have given up 15 shots in the game.”
Toronto is 3-4-0 at home so far this year, scoring 2.4 goals a game while giving up 2.6 goals per game. They are averaging 33.4 shots on goal at home, with a 7% shot success rate. On defense, the Maple Leafs have allowed 32.7 shots on goal for a 8% shot success rate Toronto is 6-4-0 in its last 10 games, with a goal differential of 8 goals so far this season. Toronto has gone under in 6 of its 17 games in 2013.
Under is 4-0 in the Sabres last 4 when their opponent scores 2 goals or less in their previous game.
Under is 3-0-1 in the Maple Leafs last 4 overall.
Under is 5-1 in the Maple Leafs last 6 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of less than .400.
Under is 5-1 in the Maple Leafs last 6 vs. a team with a winning % below .400.
Puck Play of the Day: Under 5.5