Friday Mashup: Leafs back at it, Herzog & Johnson score on Day 1 of WJCs

TORONTO, ON- SEPTEMBER 22 - Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk would get a goal tender interference penalty for running over Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller as Buffalo Sabres defenseman Chad Ruhwedel looks on in the third period as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-3 in preseason action at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, September 22, 2013. Steve Russell/Toronto Star

Back to work for the Leafs tonight, as they will hit the half way point of the season against Buffalo and Carolina this weekend (Friday/Sunday, with a rare Saturday off) before heading to the Big House for the Winter Classic on New Years Day.

By virtue of the collective ass beating the Eastern Conference has been handed at the hands of the stronger West, an 86-point pace somehow has the Leafs clinging to a spot on the right side of playoff cutoff mark. Many of the inter Conference matchups are behind us now and the points pace must pick up the rest of the way if a post-season spot is in the cards for this team.

It has to start with a good upcoming stretch against the following opponents: Sabres, Hurricanes, Red Wings, Rangers, Islanders, Hurricanes, Capitals, Devils. All are eminently beatable opponents amid those nine or ten layers of mediocre that exist in the Eastern Conference beyond the top few teams.

The Leafs have been blessed with five meetings against the Sabres, all in the first 49 games of the schedule. If the best they can muster through the first four is 1-2-1 or 1-1-2, they probably don’t deserve a playoff spot anyway. The two teams have split the points thus far, each at 1-1-1.

Got to have this one tonight.


Marlies highlights from yesterday’s 2-1 loss to the Bulldogs:


Canada opened the 2014 World Junior tournament with a 7-2 drubbing of the Germans. Frederik Gauthier chipped in one assist:


Fellow Leafs prospects and 2013 draft picks Andreas Johnson and Fabrice Herzog both scored in the meeting between Sweden and Switzerland yesterday.

From the IIHF:

[quote_box_center]Just 61 seconds into the final period, the Swiss tied the game on another power play. A wicked shot from the point created chaos in front, and Fabrice Herzog finally knocked the loose puck in to make it 3-3.[/quote_box_center]

[quote_box_center]The Swiss had a late power-play opportunity to get the tying goal, but after they failed to do so Andreas Johnson made it 5-3 thanks to a nice steal by Wennberg behind Nyffeler’s cage.

“I think I have pretty good chemistry with Johnson. I just try to put the puck on his stick. We played well in their zone,” Wennberg said, “but we need to play better in our own end. We made too many mistakes.”[/quote_box_center]