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November 27, 2014

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Vegas Play of the Day: Sabres at Maple Leafs

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel (81) shoots during practice on the outdoor rink for Wednesday’s NHL Winter Classic hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013.

The Cosmopolitan and the Venetian tore down their seasonal rinks until next year. The Orleans dumped the Wranglers.

Want to get back at the casinos for their disregard of ice sports? There’s no more fitting way to do so than to take some money off of them through hockey.

My NHL knowledge is about equal to my expertise in masonry and knitting, which is to say nonexistent. But desperate times call for desperate slap shots.

Toronto Maple Leafs minus-165 vs. Buffalo Sabres: $330 to win $200

By most measures, the Sabres are the lousiest team in the NHL. They have the lowest goal differential, minus-45, and fewest points, 31, in the league.

No one is happier about the fall from grace than their Battle of Queen Elizabeth Way rival Maple Leafs. Detroit and Montreal are often more associated as Toronto’s enemies, but plenty of hostility is reserved for its neighbors 100 miles to the South.

It’s been festering for a decade, as the Maple Leafs haven’t beaten the Sabres in their season series since 2003. They finally have the team to do it this season, but it all comes down to tonight.

Buffalo and Toronto have split four games this year, with the home team winning every matchup. The Maple Leafs’ best player is right wing Phil Kessel, who’s notoriously streaky.

But he’s on the good end of that dichotomy at the moment, with at least two points in each of the Maple Leafs’ last three games.

All those factors make the asking price look as low as the average winter temperature in Toronto. When these two teams played at the Air Canada Centre the first time this season, Buffalo fetched more than 2-to-1 as an underdog.

Standings: Bern (1-2, $9,430), Brewer (0-1-1, $9,320), Keefer (0-3, $8,975)

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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