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Game 16: Boston Bruins @ Buffalo Sabres Lines, Preview

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Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins (9-6-0, 18 pts) will try to get back into the winning ways when they travel to take on the Buffalo Sabres (7-9-2, 16 pts) at KeyBank Center (7 pm, NESN, MSG Network) for the second time this season. Linus Ullmark played his best game of the season stopping 35-of-36 shots for the victory, and former Sabres winger Taylor Hall was among four different B’s goal-scorers in the 4-1 win against Buffalo.

The Bruins had won three games in a row while outscoring opponents by a 15-6 margin prior to dropping the 4-0 shutout loss a red-hot Flames team that swept right through Boston. The Sabres, on the other hand, have lost three games in a row and been outscored by a 17-8 margin in losses to the Flames, Rangers and Blue Jackets where defense looked pretty optional.

Ullmark (4-3-0, 2.87 goals against average and .908 save percentage) was expected to get the start against his former Sabres team as the Black and Gold look to get back on the winning track, but he tweaked something at Wednesday’s morning skate and the Bruins goalie will instead be a game-time decision.

“It looks like this morning [Ullmark] tweaked something, so we’re not sure on that,” said Bruce Cassidy. “It will have to be a game-time decision, so the way we look at is whoever plays tonight will go back in on Friday [afternoon vs. the Rangers]. Whoever doesn’t go Friday will go Sunday [night against the Canucks].”

Boston Bruins Notes

-The Boston Bruins will flip their top-4 defensemen with Derek Forbort dropping to the middle pairing in a true traditional shutdown duo with Brandon Carlo, and former BU defensive partners Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy reunited as a puck-moving top pair defensemen.

“Gryz and Charlie have played together, we know that. But Gryz I think right now is ‘off’ a little bit and I think playing with Charlie might get him on track. They tend to play well together,” said Cassidy of Grzelcyk, who has just two assists and is a minus-5 in 15 games while averaging 19:50 of ice time per game. “The Gryz/Carlo [pairing] has been just average. Brandon played some of his best hockey with Zee in a shutdown role. Just focus on that. I know it’s been a few years, so he can do that well and maybe that gets him back to where he needs to be.

“I’ve liked the Reilly/Zboril pair. They’ve added some good transition and puck movement and defended hard. So, we don’t really want to mess with that one if we don’t have to. So we just flipped the two guys.”

– Trent Frederic (upper body) returned to Boston Bruins practice on Tuesday after being out since Nov. 9 with the injury but is not expected to play on Wednesday night against the Buffalo Sabres.

-Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the top Boston Bruins players are carrying their offense during the month of November. Brad Marchand (12 points), David Pastrnak (10 points), Patrice Bergeron (six goals and 10 points) and Charlie McAvoy (9 points) have all been point-per-game players during the month of November, and the next one on the list is Taylor Hall with two goals, points and a minus-2 rating in eight games.

Buffalo Sabres Notes

-Aaron Dell will get the start in net for the Buffalo Sabres and is 0-3-0 with a 3.72 goals against average and .874 save percentage during the month of November.

“He’s the hotter guy right now and we base the decision on that,” said Granato, to reporters after Wednesday’s morning skate.

– Casey Mittelstadt (upper body) is on injured reserve and there is no timetable on his return to the Sabres, but he was spotted on the ice in a no-contact sweater on Wednesday morning.

-The Sabres are truly struggling offensively while 28th in the NHL while allowing 3.39 goals per game and clearly miss traded center Jack Eichel while ranking dead-last in the NHL with a 45.3 face-off winning percentage.

-Sabres head coach Don Granato said that winger Arttu Ruotsalainen will return to the Buffalo Sabres lineup on Wednesday night but wouldn’t reveal who is coming out for the Sabres.

Boston Bruins Lines

Forwards:

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Taylor Hall – Charlie Coyle – Nick Foligno

Jake DeBrusk – Erik Haula – Craig Smith

Anton Blidh – Tomáš Nosek – Curtis Lazar

Defense:

Matt Grzelcyk – Charlie McAvoy

Derek Forbort – Brandon Carlo

Mike Reilly – Jakub Zboril

Goalies:

Linus Ullmark/Jeremy Swayman

Buffalo Sabres Lines

Forwards:

Skinner-Thompson-Olofsson

Caggiula-Cozens-Hinostroza

Ruotsalainen/Asplund-Girgensons-Okposo

Bjork-Eakin-Hayden

Defense:

Dahlin-Pysyk

Bryson-Jokiharju

Hagg-Miller

Goalies:

Aaron Dell

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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William Mahoney

For not dealing Jack Eichel to Boston I hope the B’s bury the Sabre’s!

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