TORONTO - Derek Roy is ready to pitch in to help fill the void left in Buffalo's lineup by the departures of Chris Drury and Daniel Briere.
Henrik Tallinder, Drew Stafford, Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek each scored before Roy applied the exclamation mark with three consecutive goals in a 7-2 pre-season win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night. Roy added three assists in an impressive six-point performance.
Coach Lindy Ruff will be looking for Roy to help offset the loss of the 69 goals Drury and Briere took down the free-agent highway. The five-foot-nine centre scored 21 last season and with an increased role and added ice time this season he'll be setting his aim a lot higher.
"With Dru and Dan leaving, it leaves a lot of room," Roy said. "You've got to be confident out there and you've got to make plays, trust in yourself and believe in yourself. As a player, you always want to get better and you always want to play more to move up.
"They were our leaders. They're great players. We're going to miss them. You can't replace players like that."
The Sabres finished first overall in the NHL last season and they'll be hard pressed do it again without Drury and Briere, but Leafs captain Mats Sundin was certainly impressed with them.
"They've lost some key players but they look like they're already in regular-season form," said Sundin.
He couldn't find a ray of sunshine in his team's woeful effort.
"We were standing around watching them play," Sundin said. "We have a big, strong team and playing a team like that we've got to use our bodies and move our feet.
"We were watching them play hockey. It was a long night."
The Leafs, using most of their regulars, got goals from Pavel Kubina and Chad Kilger. The only impact player in blue and white was Kris Newbury, said coach Paul Maurice.
"We were bad from start to finish - front and back," Maurice said.
Ryan Miller was his usual solid self in the Sabres nets, while Vesa Toskala was worse than he was in his first start with his new team, and the critics panned him after that one.
In his defence, he was screened when he let in Buffalo's first shot of the game, and two more Sabres goals were scored with two Leafs in the penalty box. After Buffalo went up 4-0 early in the second period, fans cheered when Toskala made his next save.
"I felt sorry for Vesa," Sundin said.
Toskala hasn't played a regular-season game in eons so it is taking him time to come around.
"I think my timing has been good," he said. "I've been in the right spots when they've been scoring.
"(The puck) has just been going through myself. I have to get those holes covered in the future."
He added a comment that will be downright scary to Leafs fans: "I'm close to where I want to be at this point."
While skeptics insist the revamped Sabres can't possibly do as well as they did last season, the message from this one was that they remain far superior to the Leafs.
"They sent us to us tonight," Kilger said, confirming the message was received. "We got it. I don't know if any other teams got it this pre-season but they sure gave it to us."
The Leafs play their regular-season opener at home next Wednesday against Ottawa.
"It's still pre-season, you know," Kubina said. "We don't need to panic. But it was a tough lesson."
The best Leaf on the ice was Darren Roanoke.
Actually, Roanoke is a character played by Romany Malco in the Mike Myers comedy "The Love Guru" that sent cast members and extras onto the ice on skates and in full uniforms during the intermissions as scenes were filmed for the flick that'll be released next June. The Air Canada Centre crowd of 18,892 cheered loudly when Roanoke, outfitted in a dark blue Leafs home uniform, scored a goal on a goalie dressing in a Red Wings uniform.
The fans got more worked up for the few minutes of theatre than for the real thing.
"We were pretty awful in the first period and then for the first two minutes of the second we watched them play their game and we had not a clue what we were doing it seemed like," Kilger said. "We have to find our identity."
They have seven days to find it.
Notes: On power plays, Buffalo was 2-for-5 and Toronto was 0-for-4 . . . The pre-season records now stand at 2-2-0 for the Sabres and 2-2-2 for the Leafs . . . The Leafs were without C Kyle Wellwood, who had abdominal surgery last Saturday, LW Alexei Ponikarovsky, D Ian White, D Carlo Colaiacovo and D Andy Wozniewski . . . Among Sabres not playing were C Tim Connelly were D Teppo Numminen, who is recovering from open heart surgery, F Paul Gaustad, F Maxim Afinogenov and D Dmitri Kalinin . . . Stafford's uncle, Barrie Stafford, has been equipment manager for the Edmonton Oilers for the last 23 years . . . The Leafs assigned forward David Ling to the AHL's Toronto Marlies earlier Wednesday . . . In eight Toronto-Buffalo meetings during 2006-2007, Toronto won three and lost five . . . The first clash of the new season will be Oct. 15 at Buffalo . . . Toronto completes its eight-game exhibition schedule with a home game against the Red Wings on Friday and a visit to Detroit on Saturday . . . Buffalo hasn't lost a pre-season game to Toronto since 2001.