Buffalo Sabres (31-24-4) vs. Boston Bruins (47-8-5)
Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST | TD Garden | Boston, MA
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Bruins Blog: Stanley Cup of Chowder
Know Your Opponent
Record: 47-8-5 | 99 PTS
Last Game: OT Win vs. Calgary Flames (4-3)
Last 10: 9-1-0
Division Ranking: 1st in Atlantic Division
PP: 8th (23.4%)
PK: 1st (86.7%)
What to Watch For
1. Look Alive
The absolute worst thing Buffalo could do tonight is let their mistakes against the Blue Jackets bleed into their matchup against Boston. Obviously losing key players in Rasmus Dahlin and Alex Tuch is like a gut punch for both the team and its fans during one of our most exciting seasons in at least a decade. However, the team managed to snag a win against the Caps earlier this week. Owen Power and Henri Jokiharju saw a lot of ice time Tuesday night, but overall, the defense really struggled.
The Sabres are now tied with the Florida Panthers for points at 66 with three games at hand. Creeping up to both teams - only behind by a mere two points in the standings - are the Ottawa Senators (who, coincidentally made a huge trade yesterday) and the Detroit Red Wings. Time to score some big goals tonight, Buffalo!
2. At Least the Sabres Are Away?
The Sabres have really struggled to win on home ice this season, so perhaps facing the Bruins in Boston is in their favor. Their away record is currently 19-8-2.
If the Sabres make the playoffs, they could potentially become the new record-holder for the fewest home points by a team that made the postseason. They currently have 26 home points with 12 games coming up at KeyBank Center. Obviously, this needs to be addressed and fixed, but at least they are not on home ice tonight.
3. On Another Level
Shocking absolutely no one, the Bruins are the best team in the league by far with 99 points and a current eight-game winning streak. They have also averaged 3.9 goals per game in their last 10 and have earned 13 out of a possible 17 points in Atlantic Division games. The Sabres, however, are unfortunately 8-9-1 against Atlantic teams this season.
Here are some highlights from the Bruins’ eighth consecutive win:
To rub salt in the wound, former Sabres’ goaltender Linus Ullmark (31-4-1) just surpassed Boston’s franchise record for most all-time single-game saves with an impressive total of 54. He was also the NHL’s third star for the month of February.
While Ullmark is not likely to get the nod tonight, fellow goaltender Jeremy Swayman’s current season record of 15-4-4 is also impressive and the Sabres should be prepared for one of the toughest games of the season as they try to keep their playoff hopes alive. Not only will it be challenging to get past either of these goaltenders (except maybe for 40-goal-scorer Tage Thompson), the Bruins’ special teams are elite with their penalty kill being at the very top.
As for top scorers, David Pastrnak with his new contract extension leads his squad with 42 goals and 38 assists. Behind him is longtime Sabres nemesis and overall pest Brad Marchand with 53 total points so far this season.
Buckle up for a tough one, boys!
Jeff Skinner - Tage Thompson - Jack Quinn
Casey Mittelstadt - Dylan Cozens - Vinnie Hinostroza
JJ Peterka - Peyton Krebs - Victor Olofsson
Zemgus Girgensons - Tyson Jost - Kyle Okposo
Owen Power - Henri Jokiharju
Mattias Samuelsson - Ilya Lyubushkin
Jacob Bryson - Kale Clague
Goaltenders: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (expected), Craig Anderson, Eric Comrie
*Rasmus Dahlin is still considered day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Alex Tuch is week-to-week.
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Jake DeBrusk
Pavel Zacha - David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Nick Foligno - Charlie Coyle - Trent Frederic
A.J. Greer - Tomas Nosek - Garnet Hathaway
Matt Grzelcyk - Charlie McAvoy
Hampus Lindholm - Dmitry Orlov
Derek Forbort - Connor Clifton
Goaltenders: Linus Ullmark, Jeremy Swayman (expected)
*The Bruins acquired Tyler Bertuzzi in a trade with the Red Wings. It is highly unlikely he will be in the lineup tonight.