TORONTO -- It's pretty incredible when you compare the Leafs and Sabres from mid-December to now, the leadup to what's become a meaningless March 11 matchup to the playoff hunt and a major one for the McEichel hunt.
The Leafs were 19-9-3 after a 6-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks here on December 16 that was their sixth straight. They've been in utter freefall mode since with the fan base in an uproar.
Since then, the Leafs are 7-26-3.
The Sabres were 12-16-2 on Dec. 14 after a 4-3 overtime win over Florida the night before on a Nikita Zadorov goal. They've been in utter freefall since, with a franchise-record 14-game losing streak and a fan base pretty much resigned to losing as winning for the future.
Since then, the Sabres are 7-26-3.
Stephen Whyno of the Canadian Press told me this morning he realized it went one further, that the Leafs had a minus-51 goal differential during those games and the Sabres were at minus-52!
It all went haywire in January, when Buffalo went 0-12 and the Leafs were 1-11-1. The Sabres went 5-6-1 in February, while Toronto was 3-7-1. In March, the tanking Sabres are 0-3 while the Leafs are 1-3-1.
Sabres players and coach Ted Nolan got plenty of tanking questions from Toronto reporters after today's morning skate. Said Nolan, when asked about trying to win in the face of a clearly different organizational mandate: "My DNA will never change."
At least for this year, the same can be said for the second half for both the Sabres and Leafs. Some of the numbers are just plain ghastly.
More Sabres-Leafs comparisions:
One-goal games: BUF 15-11-5, TOR 9-11-6
Two-goal games: BUF 1-7-0, TOR 2-7-0
Decided by three or more: BUF 3-24, TOR 15-17
Scoring first: BUF 16-13-2, TOR 19-6-3
Opponent scoring first: BUF 3-29-3, TOR 7-29-3
Leading after one period: BUF 8-6-0, TOR 14-3-1
Trailing after one: BUF 2-24-2, TOR 4-26-1
Leading after two periods: BUF 9-2-2, TOR 17-2-1
Trailing after two: BUF 1-31-1, TOR 4-31-0
Outshooting opponent: BUF 3-2-0 (five times in 66 games!), TOR 7-10-3
Outshot by opponent: BUF 15-39-4, TOR 19-23-3
Even shots: BUF 1-1-1, TOR 0-2-0