Since beating the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in a shootout a week ago in Boston, the Boston Bruins (25-12-6, 56 pts) have kept winning and enter their tilt with the Buffalo Sabres (12-26-7, 31 pts) tonight in Buffalo on a four-game win streak.
The Bruins swept a two-game set against the New York Islanders, a team they had yet to beat, and beat the Washington Capitals 6-3 on Sunday in an emotional revenge game. While the Boston Bruins have made a push up the East Division standings, the Sabres haven’t played too shabby themselves going 2-1 since that game in Boston a week ago and 3-1-1 over their last five games. Tonight begins a three-game set for the Bruins in Buffalo before they head to Pittsburgh for two games against the Pittsburgh Penguins. While some may look at these next three games as a guaranteed six points in the standings, the Boston Bruins know they’re in for a battle from a Buffalo team with nothing to lose
“It’s a tough sell to the players sometimes because that’s how a team gets painted and then everyone’s buying into it, saying they’re not very good,” Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy told the media Monday. “Then all of a sudden teams start playing well and Buffalo is in that mode right now. They’re coming together as a team. They’re playing their best hockey they’ve played all year. Our challenge to get our players’ attention after you’ve come off some New York Islander and then Washington games that are the first-place teams. We have to be focused and ready to go.”
The Bruins will once again turn to Tuukka Rask between the pipes tonight. Rask is now 2-0-0 since returning from an upper-body injury this past Thursday. He’s 10-4-2 with a 2.36 GAA and .910 save percentage this season.
-Defensemen Matt Grzelcyk and Jakub Zboril will draw back into the lineup tonight and Jarred Tinordi and Steven Kampfer will be the healthy scratches.
-Defenseman Kevan Miller is on the trip with the Bruins and getting closer but both fellow rearguard Brandon Carlo and forward Ondrej Kase remained home recovering from upper-body injuries and are still listed as week-to-week.
-Goalie Jaro Halak is off the NHL COVID Protocol list and on the trip but a timetable for a return to action is still uncertain. Cassidy told the media Tuesday morning that he’s hoping to get Halak back between the pipes in one of the next three games but there is a good chance that doesn’t happen and Jeremy Swayman and Rask split the four games.
-This is the fourth of eight games against the Sabres for the Boston Bruins. They play their longtime rivals in Buffalo and Thursday and Friday too, and then April 29 and May 1 in Boston. After going 3-0-0 against the Sabres last season, the Bruins are now 3-0-0 against their normal Atlantic Division and old Adams Division rivals.
–The Bruins’ powerplay went 0-for-3 on Sunday. They are now 29-for-132 on the man advantage this season. They’re 10th in the NHL with a 22-percent success rate.
-The PK killed off four of the Capitals’ six powerplays. However, they remain the best in the NHL with an 85.7 percent success rate. They’ve killed off 125 of 147 powerplay attempts against them this season.
-Sabres captain and Chelmsford, MA native Jack Eichel is set to have neck surgery and is out for the season. Sabres left winger Zemgus Girgensons is out indefinitely with a hamstring injury. Forward Kyle Okposo recently suffered a facial injury that will keep him out for the remainder of the season. On the blue line, defensemen Will Borgen is out until mid-April with an arm injury, and Jake McCabe is gone for the season with a knee injury. Between the pipes, Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark are day-to-day with lower-body injuries.
-The Sabres powerplay is ranked 13th in the NHL with a 21.4 percent success rate. They’re 24-for-112 on the man advantage.
-The Sabres penalty kill has a 78.3 percent success rate and is ranked 21st in the NHL. They’ve killed off 90 of 115 powerplay attempts against.
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Taylor Hall – David Krejci – Craig Smith
Nick Ritchie – Charlie Coyle – Jake DeBrusk
Sean Kuraly – Curtis Lazar – Chris Wagner
Matt Grzelcyk – Charlie McAvoy
Mike Reilly – Connor Clifton
Jeremy Lauzon – Jakub Zboril
Buffalo Sabres Lines
Jeff Skinner – Sam Reinhart – Victor Olofsson
Rasmus Asplund – Casey Mittelstadt – Tage Thompson
Anders Bjork – Dylan Cozens – Arttu Ruotsalainen
Tobias Reider-Riley Sheahan-Drake Calligua
Mattias Samuelsson- Rasmus Ristolainen
Rasmus Dahlin-Henri Jokiharju
Jacob Bryson – Colin Miller