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Game #56, Maple Leafs @ Sabres: Trapped Under Ice

02/16/11
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After staring down Carey Price in a ten-round shootout last night, Jhonas Enroth has been returned to the Portland Pirates in favor of Ryan Miller starting against divisional rival Toronto. The logic is sound on a number of levels, really. Enroth continues to get starting goaltender minutes in Portland and stays sharp, ready for the call-up at any time to relieve a rested Miller. Meanwhile, Miller gets to come off of two days of rest and start against a team that he has historically owned in his career. The superstar goalie also tends to play with zest and focus after getting criticized, which will only be magnified against Toronto.

Drew Stafford added onto the growing legend of his 2010/2011 campaign by scoring the Sabres opening goal last night. While his marker in the shootout didn’t count toward his production numbers, Thomas Vanek also continues to roll. Both forwards have been very productive in outings versus Toronto and Lindy Ruff will be looking for Stafford and Vanek as well as Miller to prolong their dominance over the Maple Leafs.

The Sabres are now in the final quarter of the season and need Pominville to go through his annual late-season boost. Throughout his career, the right winger has experienced an increase in production during the home stretch of the season. With the battle for the playoffs only getting hotter, the team will need all the production they can get and it needs to start with Pominville, who has underachieved this season.

Expect big performances out of Stafford, Vanek, Miller and keep an eye out for Myers’ late roll as well as Pominville finding his spring groove. While they may or may not make it onto the scoresheet, both Paul Byron and Nathan Gerbe continue to put together strong forechecking games for smaller skaters. All of this should culminate in the Sabres keeping the Maple Leafs firmly trapped under ice.

(Ed. note: Time to scoreboard watch tonight, folks. Keep an eye on CAR @ NJD as a New Jersey victory coupled with a Sabres victory finally puts the Sabres into the top 8 of the conference)

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