Ben Scrivens is expected to start in goal Saturday for the Toronto Maple Leafs as they face the Buffalo Sabres for the fifth time this season.
Scrivens has eight career games under his belt, all played this season. The bulk of his workload was in November, shortly after James Reimer sustained a concussion in Montreal on October 22nd. He has posted a 2-4-1 record, and his last start was November 20th in Carolina where he had 38 saves in a 3-2 loss.
“I played a couple of games, Monster [Jonas Gustavsson] was playing really good at that time too, in my mind it was never – I’m here for good, it was focus one day at a time and be ready to go if I was playing that day and if I wasn’t...try and get as much as I could from practice.” said Scrivens by his dressing room stall after a spirited morning skate at Air Canada Centre. “That is my approach at this point too, exactly what I was saying before, one game at a time”
Less than 24 hours prior, his focus was with the Toronto Marlies, the Maple Leafs' American Hockey League affiliate. Scrivens stopped 33 shots in a 5-4 overtime win against Buffalo's AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans, Scrivens and after the game found out that he was called up.
“It’s the life of a third [goalie] I guess, you always got to be ready, you never know when things are gonna’ change and they can change overnight," Scrivens said. "My focus last night was on beating Rochester and we had a gutsy overtime win – hopped in a car and came up here. If I’m going tonight – I’ll be ready.”
The Maple Leafs are facing a tumultuous time with 5-17-3 record in their last 25 games and mounting player frustration along with fan backlash. However, Scrivens is not phased -- in large part because of the success of his AHL club.
“When we are down with the Marlies, we’re not counting off points for the Leafs and seeing about their playoff push, we’re worried about ourselves down there and we’ve got ourselves in a good position for the playoffs,” Scrivens said.
Defenseman Mike Komisarek confirmed he will be in the lineup tonight, which means Cody Franson is likely to sit.
After a 5-3 loss Friday night to Pittsburgh, the Sabres have yet another crucial game in their push for the playoffs. They currently sit in ninth position in the Eastern Conference, tied in points with the eighth place Washington Capitals but with fewer non-shootout victories. Washington plays host to Montreal on Saturday evening. They will also know by puck drop if they can catch the seventh-place Senators, who play Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia. They trail Ottawa by just two points.
“I think Buffalo has been a team that has really turned their team around specifically in the last 25 games," said Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle, whose Ducks lost 4-1 to the Sabres in Helsinki, Finland October 7, in what was the opening game of the NHL season for both clubs.
Carlyle also spoke of his players need to be less apprehensive.
“The fear factor around our group is very high right now and when you play with fear it doesn’t allow you to do the things that naturally come to you...you can’t play the game in total fear,” he said.
As expected, after playing last night, Buffalo had only four players take to the ice Saturday morning -- forwards Jochan Hecht, Matt Ellis and Nathan Gerbe and goaltender Jhnonas Enroth.
The clubs have split their first four meetings, with the home team winning each time.
Here is the projected lineup for the Maple Leafs:
Matt Frattin - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski -Joey Crabb
Carter Ashton - Tim Connolly - Mike Brown
Jay Rosehill - Matthew Lombardi - Colby Armstrong
Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles - Luke Schenn
Jake Gardiner - Mike Komisarek