One hundred minutes.
That is the physical distance separating the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs. It is not an especially long trip from Western New York to the Centre of the Hockey Universe.
The gap between the two Atlantic Division franchises is even closer on the ice, which makes their game one of the more intriguing for today’s NHL picks. Both possess explosive offenses and players of immense skill. But neither franchise has started the 2023-24 season in the manner benefitting teams with playoff aspirations. Which has led to consternation and uncomfortable questions being asked, with no answers in sight.
Sabres vs Maple Leafs Best Bets
Even if they are not exactly a well-oiled machine these days.
Toronto is in the midst of a three-game losing streak, which generally should not be cause for panic. Especially when two of the three games were decided in overtime and the shootout, thereby earning the Leafs two points.
What is troublesome is that Toronto is only averaging 1.66 goals scored in the stretch, while yielding 3.33 goals against. Typically, allowing more goals than you score is a great formula for losing hockey games.
So, too, is the perception of a lack of team unity. Which was in full display in Thursday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Original Six brethren Boston. The Leafs lost defenseman Timothy Liljegren for what head coach Sheldon Keefe called “significant time” after suffering a lower-body injury during a puck race with Bruins captain Brad Marchand. The two players were chasing a loose puck and became tangled up, leading to Liljegren going feet-first into the boards. The 24-year-old had to be helped off the ice by trainers and did not return.
Which, by itself, is a blow. But what caused outrage was a viral clip of Leafs winger Tyler Bertuzzi laughing at a running conversation between his teammates on the bench and Marchand later in the game.
That should earn Bertuzzi a seat in the press box, quite frankly. He hasn’t played well enough and was demoted to the 4th line. Couple with this? Grab a seat and watch for a night. https://t.co/1aJgk7rXMB
— Rachel Doerrie (@racheldoerrie) November 3, 2023
But Toronto had Friday off, while the Sabres were blown out at home by the Flyers, 5-1, at home. The loss snapped a two-game winning streak, but that was not the main takeaway for head coach Don Granato and captain Kyle Okposo. Granato, according to the AP, said, “I thought there was enough generated to get breaks and the question would be: Did you earn the break? We could have scored but let’s face it, we didn’t play the way we needed to play.”
Okposo, the 17-year veteran, was even more blunt. “I just don’t think we played with enough urgency,” Okposo said in the NHL.com story. “We know that team comes out, works, and we have to try to match their work ethic and play with a purpose and I just don’t think we started the game with purpose.”
Laughing during a verbal exchange while a teammate is hurt is bad. Not showing up for work on time is worse.
Pick: Toronto Maple Leafs +125
Sabres vs Maple Leafs Game Information
- Game: Sabres (5-6-0) vs Maple Leafs (5-3-2).
- Location: Capital One Arena, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- Day/Time: Saturday, Nov. 4, 7:00 P.M. ET
- Sabres vs Maple Leafs Live Stream: NHL.TV
Sabres vs Maple Leafs Betting Lines
Questions of the Day
Which player is the best bet to score a goal in Sabres vs Maple Leafs?
Toronto’s Auston Matthews is one of the most gifted goal-scorers in the NHL. Entering the game against the Sabres, Matthews is tied for second in the league with eight goals. In 10 games. Which is an average of 0.80 goals per game. Over the course of an 82-game season, that extrapolates to 65.6 goals.
What is the top NHL spread pick for Sabres vs Maple Leafs?
Toronto’s John Tavares has 41 points in 43 career games against Capitals.