The Buffalo Sabres will travel to Boston to take on the division-rival Bruins this evening for the first meeting between the two teams since March 10th of last season.
The Bruins/Sabres rivalry has grown substantially over the past few seasons, renewing its tenacity following the Sabres’ 4-2 series loss to the Bruins in the first round of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
This season the Bruins (7-7) enter the game in fourth place in the Northeast Division, having won four straight games following an abysmal October for the team.
The Sabres (10-5) currently reside in second place in the division and find themselves in the middle of a four-game winning streak of their own after defeating the Ottawa Senators 5-1 last night at the First Niagara Center.
In their first meeting since the Bruins won the Stanley Cup last year, the teams will be hard-pressed to out-do their last meeting in which the Sabres won, 6-5, in a back-and-fourth overtime thriller.
The Sabres’ offense heads into Boston on fire, scoring 16 goals in their previous four games.
After a slow start, Derek Roy has found his scoring groove, notching points in four consecutive games.
Drew Stafford will attempt to match the hat trick he notched against the Bruins in their last game and enters the contest after a three-assist effort in the win against Ottawa.
The Bruins offense has been on quite a roll as well, scoring an incredible 24 goals in their last four games.
Milan Lucic enters the game having scored points in seven of his last eight games and sophomore Tyler Seguin will look to continue an impressive start to his season as he leads all Bruins with 9 goals and 17 points.
It’s still unclear as to whether Sabres’ coach Lindy Ruff will continue to ride his hot hand in net with Jhonas Enroth, who comes off a strong 36-save performance and sports a 1.34 GAA and .956 SV% in six games (5-0) so far this season, or if he’ll decide to stick to his schedule, starting franchise goalie Ryan Miller who is coming off a game where he allowed five goals in the team’s win on Tuesday against Columbus.
What is clear, though, is that the defense finally showed signs of life against the Senators. Despite allowing 37 shots, Ruff said after the game the team allowed a season-low in scoring chances, which is a performance the Sabres will look to duplicate no matter who starts in net.
Last season’s Vezina winner Tim Thomas will almost certainly start in net against the Sabres after Tuuka Rask received his second-consecutive start in the team’s 6-3 victory over Edmonton on Thursday. In 23 career games against the Sabres, Thomas’ numbers are less than spectacular as he is 8-9 with a 3.17 GAA and .898 SV%.
As far as injuries go, Tyler Ennis has begun skating with the team but is still considered day-to-day and the Bruins will skate at full strength.
The Sabres’ Patrick Kaleta will make his return to the lineup following a four-game suspension for headbutting Jakub Vorcek last week against the Flyers. Despite his strong play in Kaleta’s absence which included his first-career goal, Corey Tropp will be sent back down to Rochester to make room for Kaleta’s return to the lineup.
The puck will drop at 7 p.m. EST from the TD Gardens in Boston, Massachusetts. The game will be broadcast live on on MSG as Rick Jeanerette and Harry Neale bring you the play-by-play.