Tonight, the Buffalo Sabres look to avoid a second loss to the Boston Bruins in less than a week and get the two points they badly need.
To say that the Sabres are currently in a tough place is a bit of an understatement. The Sabres are dead last in the Northeast, chasing the Canadiens who have a comfortable point lead. In the conference, Buffalo rests for now in the 12th spot but only a point separates them from last in the East.
The Sabres last faced Boston in a lopsided affair at home this past Sunday night. The scoreboard portrayed a close game; tied at one until 7:52 into the 3rd period when the Bruins took the lead for good. However, the game was nowhere near tight. Buffalo was outshot 39-26; many of their attempts were pedestrian efforts from the outside while Miller was forced to keep the Sabres in the game.
The Sabres offense was ineffective and generally lacking in energy, their only goal coming from a bad Bruins turnover that ended up on Tyler Ennis’s stick right in front of the net. Buffalo didn’t improve in the goal scoring department throughout the week as they got blanked in Ottawa on Tuesday night.
Despite the fact that Buffalo has only generated one goal in the past two match ups, offensive production isn’t the major storyline heading into this game. The Sabres defensive core has been shaky at best and has had major struggles with turnovers and positional play. There is no goat on the squad, each defenseman contributing to the lacking performance. In addition to this, the team defense has also seen a bit of a slump; forwards are not back checking or are losing their men in front of the net.
The Bruins come into tonight’s match up off of a shootout loss to the Rangers but still relatively hot. They have picked up 7 out of their last 8 available points. Boston is 2nd in the conference and 1st in the division and has a 7 point advantage over Buffalo.
Due to the nature of the shortened season, it wouldn’t be unwise to call this game a must win for Buffalo, who, at this point are struggling to look like a playoff team. While still supportive, the Buffalo fan base is also dissatisfied and questions are being raised concerning management and coaching. With every loss the unrest intensifies so to get a win against the Bruins would be a huge step towards turning the season around.
Buffalo vs. Boston games are always passionate tilts with a lot of physical play. Perhaps the only bright spot of last Sunday’s game were the energy players. John Scott, Steve Ott, and Pat Kaleta all had good games. Kaleta especially provided the team with a spark in the first period by dropping the gloves with Campbell and providing vital shot blocks to close the period.
For the Sabres to get a win against the Bruins they’ll need to come out with a jump, play physical, and clean up their defensive zone.
The game is slated for 7:00 PM and will be aired on MSG.