The Sabres and Maple Leafs will play their 100th regular-season game in Buffalo on Wednesday night. It will be the first one of the rivalry for Dan Bylsma and Mike Babcock.
The coaches, hired eight days apart in May, will quickly learn that fans get up for this game. Bylsma says he's already aware.
"If you win four games, just win these four," the Sabres' coach said Tuesday. "That's what I've been told by fans going down the street."
The fans would have been even more riled up for the meeting had it been held in May. Babcock spurned an offer of more than $50 million to coach the Sabres, instead opting to fill the vacancy in Toronto. The sting was lessened when Buffalo hired Bylsma, who like Babcock has won a Stanley Cup.
The coaches are still trying to mold their teams. Buffalo is 1-4, last in the Atlantic Division, while Toronto is just one point ahead at 1-3-1.
"We can get this team to win every night," Babcock told Toronto reporters. "I really believe that. When you put your work boots on and you trust each other and you play hard, you've got a chance."
Historically, the Leafs haven't had much of a chance in Buffalo. During the first 99 regular-season games, the Sabres went 66-25 with eight ties or overtime losses and have outscored Toronto, 391-259. The Sabres are on a 6-0-1 run.
Buffalo defenseman Cody Franson, who spent parts of the previous four seasons with Toronto, felt the pain. Now he hopes to inflict it.
"It's going to be a lot of fun," said Franson, who returned to practice after taking a maintenance day. "For us in Toronto, every time we came into Buffalo we knew it was going to be a tough game. It didn't matter where each team was in the standings, at the end of the day it was a hard-fought game and a game that was tough to come out of with two points.
"We came into Buffalo a number of times and didn't come away with two points. It's a tough place to win games when you're coming in here with a Toronto jersey on. Now being on the other side of it, I want that to continue."