These are dark days for the Buffalo Sabres, but the last place they're about to find any sympathy right now is from Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson.
"If you just get off on the wrong foot, and I'm speaking from experience from last year [when Toronto started the season 0-7-1] it's hard to get it back," Wilson said. "This is a hard league. I'm sure before long they'll be playing well.
"But as long as they're suffering a little bit, I've got no problem with that."
For years, it's been the Leafs who have suffered at the hands of their division rivals from down the QEW highway, something everyone in the organization is well aware of heading into Saturday night's meeting at the Air Canada Centre.
The past six seasons, Buffalo has a 29-10-3 record against Toronto, dominating the Leafs both at home and on the road by scoring an average of 3.62 goals a game.
Leafs winger Clarke MacArthur has been on the other side of the rivalry most of his NHL career, playing his first 187 games in the league as a Sabre. With several close friends still in Buffalo, he has kept a close eye on his former team this season and said he was surprised they were mired in the league's basement.
"I've seen a few of their games where they've played well and haven't gotten the win," said MacArthur, who keeps in contact via text message with Buffalo's Drew Stafford and Andrej Sekera. "I know the pressure's mounting there.
"But they've got some older guys, with good leadership, so I feel like they're going to grab the reins. They're a good team and I think they will get on track."
Both teams enter Saturday's game in need of a some positive momentum. With star netminder Ryan Miller sidelined with a knee injury until at least Wednesday, Buffalo had lost four games in a row heading into Friday's meeting with the Montreal Canadiens.
Toronto, meanwhile, has only one win in its past eight games (1-5-2) and was four points out of last in the Eastern Conference before Friday's games.
"They're a desperate team," Leafs defenceman Mike Komisarek said. "We're sort of in the same boat - we've lost a couple games here, we're not getting the points that we want and it's going to be a battle."
As for recent talk around the hockey world that Sabres coach Lindy Ruff's job may be in jeopardy after 13 seasons in Buffalo due to their 3-8-2 start, Wilson said that it's "ridiculous."
"The best scoring team in the league's just been shutout twice and three times in a row on the road in the [San Jose]Sharks so maybe they should fire the coach and trade three of their best players in order to shake things up," Wilson said of his former team, which is also off to a slow start.
"You constantly go through ups and downs and you have to maintain a long-term picture of the whole thing. Lindy's a great coach. To suddenly [suggest he has gone]dumb, in the course of a month, is ridiculous. He's one of the best coaches in the league."
Jean-Sébastien Giguère is expected to get his ninth start in goal for Toronto while either Patrick Lalime or Swedish rookie Jhonas Enroth will play for the Sabres.
Wilson also said Friday that defenceman Korbinian Holzer will make his NHL debut on Toronto's blueline, filling in in the absence of captain Dion Phaneuf. Holzer, 22, was a Leafs fourth-round pick in 2006 and will become only the sixth German player to play a game in the NHL this season.Report Typo/Error