TORONTO -- Ah, preseason. A chance to try to get back into game shape. A chance to try to stay onsides. And, yes, I'm talking about me, not the players.
The Sabres are in Toronto, and the starting lineup for the opening exhibition game has just been handed out. Here's Buffalo's starting six: Andrej Sekera and Mike Weber on the blue line; Jochen Hecht centering for Daniel Paille and Drew Stafford; and Ryan Miller in net.
More lines and pairings to come as we go along, but one blue-line duo that won't be together tonight (and maybe not this season) is Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman. Tallinder is in the lineup tonight while Lydman is sitting. For more on Tallinder, see Tuesday's paper.
7:35 p.m.: Starting in goal for Toronto is Curtis Joseph. He received a loud ovation, and the fans quickly welcomed him back with a "Cu-jo, Cu-jo" chant.
7:42 p.m.: That didn't take long. Sabres draw a penalty in opening seconds when Mike Weber feeds Drew Stafford with a long outlet pass. Marek Zagrapan makes Leafs pay with a goal just 45 seconds in.
Other defensive pairings are Tallinder and Mike Card, and Jaroslav Spacek with Nathan Paetsch. Haven't seen all the forward lines yet, but banger line is Dylan Hunter in the middle of Andrew Peters and Patrick Kaleta.
7:53 p.m.: First bad decision of Sabres' season is a drop pass in his own zone by Tallinder, whose feed went to Toronto's Dominic Moore. The score is 1-1 with 11:51 to go in first after Moore beats Miller with high wrister.
7:57 p.m.: Other forward lines are Tyler Bouck-Clarke MacArthur-Ales Kotalik, and Philip Gogulla-Zagrapan-Mark Mancari.
8 p.m.: First fight of year has Petes taking down Ryan Hollweg.
8:15 p.m.: Eventful final 1:08 of the first period. Toronto takes a 2-1 lead when Carlo Colaiacovo beats Miller with high shot through screen. Then the physical play takes over. Hollweg tackles Peters along boards but doesn't get called. Kaleta responds by burying Hollweg near Leafs' bench. Ben Ondrus takes offense, and he and Kaleta have brief fight. Peters argues noncall and gets two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, 10-minute misconduct and game misconduct.
Apparently, five months away makes people ornery.
8:42 p.m.: Boyd Devereaux gives Leafs a 3-1 lead 4:26 into second period. Play starts with turnover by Ales Kotalik.
8:48 p.m.: Miller takes a seat and Jhonas Enroth makes his first professional appearance.
8:54 p.m.: Enroth stops first shot, but second one makes score 4-1 Toronto. Robert Earl steps out of penalty box and gets breakaway goal.
Lindy Ruff told me before the game he's not too worried about the results of the first two preseason games. Good.
9:33 p.m.: Gogulla makes it 4-2 less than four minutes into third on nice cross-crease feed from MacArthur.
9:50 p.m.: Sabres keep it interesting as Mancari scores with 6:41 to play to cut Toronto's lead to 5-3.
9:54 p.m: More from Moore puts Leafs ahead by three again. He streaks past Sekera while short-handed and slides the puck past Enroth with 5:26 to go.
9:57 p.m.: The goals keep coming. Stafford feeds Hecht in front with 3:26 left to make it 6-4. Needless to say, the offense is ahead of the defense so far in training camp.
10:05 p.m.: That's it from Toronto, where the Sabres open the exhibition season with a 7-4 loss to the Maple Leafs (Jiri Tlusty scored an empty-net goal with 16.6 seconds to go). It was typical preseason hockey: a little sloppy with a few good signs and obviously more work ahead.
taggedSabres game day