Sabres-Bruins Preview: Special Teams and Intangibles

This will be a three-part series over the next day to highlight the matchups we will see on the ice when this series finally begins on Thursday night. Part Three will focus on the power play, penalty killing and intangibles like coaching, faceoffs, the ability to play in a close game and more.

Part I - Sabres Forwards vs. Bruins Defense

Part II - Sabres Defense vs. Bruins Forwards

With both teams being as good as they are defensively it could come down to the little things to decide this series. Which coach makes the best decisions? Which team gets contribution from their power play? Which team starts better in each game? There are so many factors that can contribute to the outcome of a playoff series, let's see which team has the advantage.

Boston Power Play vs. Sabres Penalty Killing - Advantage Buffalo

If not for an empty net power play goal to end the season, the Sabres might have had the best penalty kill in the NHL this season. They allowed only 38 goals and they killed off 86.6% of their opponents power plays.

The numbers for the Sabres penalty kill are staggering and they are a nightmare for the Boston Bruins. The Bruins power play has been close to awful this season and the numbers look even worse when looking at total goals. The Bruins converted 16.6% of their power play opportunities which was 23rd in the league but they scored only 44 goals which is 27th.

The Bruins lack of offensive firepower has allowed teams to not be as aggressive defensively and they don't force their opponents to take many penalties. The Sabres have been a disciplined team most of the season and they should have no problem limiting the Bruins effectiveness on the power play. 

Sabres Power Play vs. Bruins Penalty Killing - Advantage Bruins

The Boston Bruins were the only team that allowed less power play goals (37) than the Buffalo Sabres. While the Sabres power play had more success than the Bruins power play this season, it will be difficult to beat the Bruins penalty kill.

The Bruins have a distinct advantage in this area but I can see the Sabres being able to have some limited success with the man advantage. If Thomas Vanek can get traffic in front of Rask and the Sabres get some shots through to the net, this will be the difference in the series.

Coaching - Advantage Buffalo

Lindy Ruff has become a master of playing head games in the playoffs. Think back to 2006 when the Sabres lost in seven games to the Canes. Buffalo played without four of their regular defensemen and still almost won the hockey game. After the game, in what should have been a time of jubilation, Rod Brindamour felt it was necessary to criticize Lindy Ruff or talking too much to the media. I would say that Lindy won the psychological war but unfortunately could not overcome the depleted lineup.

When looking at the two coaches career records there wasn't a noticeable difference in their regular season records. Claude Julien is 252-164-10-58 lifetime and Lindy Ruff is 483-361-78-62. Flip to the post-season and the records are noticeably different. Ruff has a 52-36 record, while Julien is only 14-15.

Faceoffs - Advantage Push

This is a situation where you can't judge a book by its cover. The Boston Bruins were second in the NHL with a 52.6% faceoff percentage and the Sabres were 23rd in the league with a 48.6% percentage. The advantage is huge for the Bruins but there is more to the story.

When you look at the top two players for both teams, the numbers are almost identical. Patrice Bergeron is a faceoff master for the Bruins (778W-564L - 58.0%) and David Krejci is second on the team (560W-544L - 50.7%). The Sabres numbers are eerily similar with Paul Gaustad leading the way winning 57.4%(599W-444L) of his draws. Dere Roy is second on the team at 50.4% (617W-608L).

Intangibles - Advantage Sabres

Scoring first is almost always important in the NHL and like everything else, it is magnified in the playoffs. Almost every team has a good record when they score first or when they lead after two periods, the Sabres have been simply magnificent. Buffalo was 31-6-4 when scoring first and they were the only team in the NHL that did not lose when they were leading after two periods, a perfect 30-0-0 record.

Series Prediction - Sabres in 6 Games

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Die By The Blade

You must be a member of Die By The Blade to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Die By The Blade. You should read them.

Join Die By The Blade

You must be a member of Die By The Blade to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Die By The Blade. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9355_tracker