The Buffalo Sabres have taken seven of their last eight points thanks to some strong shootout play in net and from the forwards. Points nine and ten are on the table tonight.
Of course the Boston Bruins stand in the way of those precious two points. The Bruins remain a team this current Sabres roster is not built to take down. The Bruins are big, physical and tough. The Sabres are small, agile and soft.
Because of the hole Buffalo dug between November and December, this is a must win game. Of course expectations will likely be a bit lower considering the way Boston has played Buffalo this year.
The Bruins’ last visit to First Niagara Center was the “grudge match” game after Ryan Miller was hit by Milan Lucic. The Sabres lost 4-3 in a shootout that night after playing 20 minutes of physically engaging hockey in which they controlled the play. The following 40 were far more passive and the team paid for it with the loss.
Buffalo not only needs to set an early tone, they need to carry it throughout the night. There are players on the roster capable of providing a steady physical presence, the key is making sure it survives beyond the first period.
With the possibility of not having Lindy Ruff on the bench, I’m curious to see how the team responds.
Nathan Gerbe vs. Brad Marchand. Both have the honey badger moniker following them around. Although, Marchand seems more fond of Nose Face Killah. Both are agitators who can easily stick in their opponent’s craw. Last time Marchand scored a big second period goal and acted like a real professional while taunting the Buffalo bench. Gerbe was the most physically active Sabre that night, but was ineffective on offense. Both have the ability to have an impact on this game. It will be interesting to see who has the better night.
BUF: Ryan Miller
BOS: Tim Thomas
Sabres 3 – Bruins 4 SO, First Niagara Center, 11/23/2011