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Maple Leafs-Sabres: The Vibe at the ACC for Toronto's Clash With Buffalo

Louis PisanoAnalyst IDecember 22, 2009

TORONTO - DECEMBER 19: The Toronto Maple Leafs honour 60's NHL legends Bob Nevin, Red Kelly and  Mike Walton before game action against the Boston Bruins December 19, 2009 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Abelimages/Getty Images

The buzz in the ACC on Monday night ahead of the game with the Sabres, a team which has somewhat owned Toronto recently, was one of optimism and anxiety after "the Monster" had shut out the hated division rival Boston Bruins Saturday.

Buffalo scored the first goal of the game and a unanimous groan from the audience blanketed the arena, followed by the rumblings of how this had happened way too often this year.

While talking to some of the fans outside during the first intermission, I got a lot of positive feedback about the home town Leafs.

The name that came out of almost everyone’s mouth was Phil Kessel and how no one seemed concerned anymore about the draft picks that Brian Burke had given up to get him.

Another player who seems to be the centre of attention was goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, "the Monster", who has shown sparks of brilliance despite multiple heart surgeries.

People believe he is the future between the pipes but the question they have is not about his talent but obviously about his health.

During the second period the Leafs battled back and were ahead 2-1 when the buzzer sounded to end the period.

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Now everyone was talking about Viktor Stalberg who scored his second goal in his third game since being recalled from the Toronto Marlies. Stalberg will not be joining the team on their trip to Long Island to play the Islanders due to an upper body injury.

As the World Junior tournament exhibition games have gotten underway with Canada beating Sweden 6-2, perhaps the only team in the tournament that may give them a run for the gold, the name Nazim Kadri is back in the minds of Leaf fans.

Kadri had three assists in the game and speculation about him feeding trigger man Phil Kessel in the future is causing Leaf fans to drool.

Toronto gave up a goal mid-way through the third period and eventually lost in overtime 3-2.

Rumblings about their defence and not being able to close out games were the conversations on the escalator while exiting the ACC.

There was still an optimistic view entwined within conversation as the Leafs came away with a point moving them one point ahead of the Islanders who they face next and two points ahead of the conundrum which is the Philadelphia Flyers.

No one I talked to said anything, surprisingly, about the coaching of Ron Wilson.

Hopefully a Christmas present comes a little early for Leaf fans in the form of two points against the Islanders on Wednesday in Long Island.

In case you didn’t know, Gabe Morency (formally of The Score ) has launched his new website. Mark “The Hard Hitter” Ritter, my B/R counterpart, and I will be throwing down our podcast Get The Puck Out every Saturday from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM.

Our next show will be Jan 9. We’ll be giving you our opinion and taking your calls on the hottest topics in the hockey world.

The live podcast will be broadcast in studio from downtown Toronto featuring some betting analysis, fantasy advice, trivia, team/player updates, and more puck talk than you can imagine.

Be sure to call in and let your opinion be known. Don’t miss it, puckheads!
You can catch Morency and “Get The Puck Out” at www.morencysports.com