Rivalries are a part of every sport and especially true in hockey. Buffalo and Toronto have had a long time rivalry that usually gets worse the further into the season we go. Thursday was a somewhat exception to this rule as Buffalo and Toronto met for the third time, with each team having won one game so far. This game was rather uneventful to say the least. There were only a few worthy hits, only two fights, well one can be called more of a scrum, and only 4 goals scored between the two teams. While low scoring goals can mean good things for each team and their goalies, the inability to make substantial plays was a major factor in the low scoring.
Buffalo came into this game with a heavy heart as their longtime coach Lindy Ruff had been fired about 24 hours earlier. Having to go to Toronto with a new head coach was a tough task and with the way the team has been playing as of late, it was only a matter of time before a drastic measure was taken. The first period only saw one goal scored by Buffalo’s Tyler Ennis, putting the puck between the pipes for his 6th goal of the season. The second period saw a milestone for Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf as he recorded his 100th career goal. The third period allowed a little more action with the two “fights” of the game between John Scott and Frazer McLaren and Nathan Gerbe and Dion Phaneuf. While the point of this scrum was to get their respective teams more involved, it didn’t seem to work as well for the Sabres as they continued to struggle. Leafs James Van Riemsdyk ultimately sealed the Sabres losing fate at 14:28 of the 3rd period with his second goal of the game to make it 3-1 Toronto.
A new head coach cannot be expected to change everything so quickly after spending such an abbreviated stint with the team prior to Thursday nights game- let’s just see what can transpire between now and the next time Buffalo hits the ice. The Sabres next game is home against the New York Islanders, while the Leafs go on the road to play the Ottawa Senators, both on Saturday.