Here’s your Boston Hockey Now Boston Bruins Game Day Preview:
Boston Bruins (50-25-5, 105 pts) vs Buffalo Sabres (31-38-11 73 pts)
TIME: 7:00 PM ET
TV: NESN+, MSG Network
The Boston Bruins will host the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday in their penultimate game of the 2021-22 NHL regular season.
The Bruins are working to end the regular season in a winning way after a quality 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night, and two wins in a row overall. The Bruins have clinched at least the top wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and still have a shot to catch up to the Tampa Bay Lightning if they can win out and the Bolts lose each of their two remaining games. Despite a chance to catch the Lightning, it sure looks like they’re going to face the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the playoffs and are preparing for that scenario.
It’s a team that has outscored the Boston Bruins by a 16-1 margin in their three regular season meetings this year, but one that the B’s feel like they’ll be more ready for the next time around in the postseason.
“Let’s use Carolina as an example. We haven’t seen them in a long time,” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “We’re functioning at a much higher level than when we played them earlier on, so we’re not going to take a lot from those games other than here’s what Carolina likes to do: They’re in your face and they like to press all over the ice.
“And you don’t know if Carolina might decide to change that. I don’t think they will because they’ve been very successful. At the end of the day, I don’t think many teams change their stripes going into the playoffs especially if you’ve had a successful year. When you look at the teams in the East they’ve all hit 100 points, so they’re going to feel like they’ve got a good hockey club. I wouldn’t anticipate any team changing the way they play [to start the playoffs]. That happens more along the way if you have to make adjustments.”
The Bruins will give Linus Ullmark his third straight start as he looks like he’s got a leg up on Jeremy Swayman for the starting honors in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Ullmark is 4-1-0 with a 1.68 goals against average and .937 save percentage in six appearances during the month of April. Swayman will start in Friday night’s regular season finale in Toronto against the Maple Leafs.
The Buffalo Sabres, currently on a four-game winning streak, will be starting Dustin Tokarski, who has a 9-11-5 record with a 3.25 goals against average and .901 save percentage this season.
Boston Bruins Notes
-The Boston Bruins second line carried the day on Tuesday with Erik Haula and Taylor Hall both scoring goals along with Jake DeBrusk’s game-winning goal in the second period. Both Haula and Hall have a chance at reaching 20 goals for the season with a hot stretch in these last couple of games.
–Brad Marchand snapped out of an 11-game goalless stretch with an empty net strike against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night, and was also voted by his NHL peers to be the guy they most love to hate in the league.
-Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy indicated several B’s regulars will be held out of the lineup for Friday’s finale in Toronto and wouldn’t even be traveling with the team.
Buffalo Sabres Notes
-John Hayden will step into the Sabres’ lineup for their road finale against the Boston Bruins on Thursday. Hayden will take the place of Kyle Okposo, who is out after sustaining an injury during practice on Monday.
-Rookie defenseman and former No. 1 overall pick Owen Power will replace Okposo on the second power-play unit, joining Henri Jokiharju, Dylan Cozens, Peyton Krebs, and Victor Olofsson. It will be the rookie’s first full-time stint on the power play since making his debut on April 12.
“He knows what he’s doing on the power play,” said Sabres coach Don Granato. “I look forward to having him on there and now is the right time.”
-Goaltender Aaron Dell has been recalled from the Rochester Americans and will join the Sabres in Boston.
Boston Bruins Lineup:
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron– Jake DeBrusk
Taylor Hall – Erik Haula – David Pastrnak
Trent Frederic – Charlie Coyle – Craig Smith
Nick Foligno – Tomáš Nosek – Curtis Lazar
Hampus Lindholm – Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk – Brandon Carlo
Derek Forbort – Connor Clifton
Buffalo Sabres Lineup:
Anders Bjork–Zemgus Girgensons–Vinnie Hinostroza
Jeff Skinner–Tage Thompson–Victor Olofsson
Rasmus Asplund–Dylan Cozens–John Hayden
Peyton Krebs–Casey Mittelstadt–Alex Tuch
Owen Power–Henri Jokiharju
Mattias Samuelsson–Rasmus Dahlin
Jacob Bryson–Casey Fitzgerald