February 15th, 2013 by Tim Rosenthal
Thanks to the shortened season, the schedule makers at the National Hockey League were forced to make some strange and quirky decisions. Friday’s game between the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres is just the latest example.
After defeating the Sabres last Sunday in Buffalo – with their third period comeback against the New York Rangers sandwiched in between – the Black and Gold return to the First Niagara Center for their first of five straight road games Friday night at the First Niagara Center.
Since their 7-4 loss to the Sabres, the Bruins have looked sharp defensively allowing just five goals in the four games since (3-0-1). But, even though Patrice Bergeron scored the game-winner on the man advantage last Sunday, the power play continues to be a sore spot for Boston as they are ranked dead last at 9.3 percent.
Buffalo, meanwhile, is coming off a 2-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators where they compiled a season-high 42 shots only to be stymied by Craig Anderson.
After the jump, lineups, storylines, linkage and tweets of interest
Gametime: 7 p.m.
Location: First Niagara Center
T.V./Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins (8-1-2, 18 points), Sabres (5-8-1, 11 points)
Bruins projected lineup
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin
Chris Bourque-Chris Kelly-Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg-Dougie Hamilton
Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid
Sabres projected lineup
Thomas Vanek-Cody Hodgson-Jason Pominville
Nick Foligno-Tyler Ennis-Drew Stafford
Steve Ott-Mikhail Grigorenko-Nathan Gerbe
John Scott-Jochen Hecht-Patrick Kaleta
Christian Ehrhoff-Andrej Sekera
Robyn Reghr-Tyler Myers
Adam Weber-Jordan Leopold
Bruins to watch
After notching 25 saves in the last meeting, it looks like Claude Julien will go with Anton Khudobin again for Friday’s meeting. If so it will be his third start of the season, and this move might pay dividends. With a busy slate coming up in March, Tuukka Rask could use a little extra rest even though he might have to shake off some rust if or when he gets the start on Sunday. But the big picture is the stretch run and anytime Khudobin puts in a quality performance it means a little extra to give Rask a breather.
While Tyler Seguin’s struggles have been well documented, Chris Kelly is seeing the same type of slump early. Much to the disappointment of fellow colleague Anthony Travalgia, the veteran has only three points – all assists – and is a minus-3 through the first 11 games. No doubt Kelly’s linemates, Chris Bourque and Rich Peverley, have also struggled, but for a deep, veteran team like the B’s, I’m sure Claude will like to get this line going sooner rather than later.
Sabres to watch
After sitting out the last meeting, Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers will face the Black and Gold for the second time this season. The struggles of the former Calder Trophy winner have been well documented in Buffalo and was recently a healthy scratch against the Isles and B’s. Myers, a former first round pick, has just one goal and is a minus-9 on the season, both far from ideal stats for a top-four defenseman.
The Sabres’ secondary scoring has been an issue all season, but Tyler Ennis is starting to come along. The former first round pick has strung together a nice five-game stretch notching three goals and two assists. While Ennis and Nick Foligno have been a nice one-two punch, they will need to get production out of Drew Stafford, who is still without a goal on the season despite logging over 18 minutes a night. Look for Stafford to get some looks again as he tries to break out of his slump.
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The Days of Y’Orr crew have a good amount of material in store when they debut their pregame show tonight at 6:15 p.m.
With Nathan Horton on the last year of his contract, the Game 7 hero against Montreal and Tampa hopes to stay in Boston according to DJ Bean of WEEI.com.
Die By the Blade says the Sabres need production out of Stafford if they are to bust out of their offensive woes.
Sabres noise analyzes the team’s goaltending situation.
And Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News says Friday’s matchup might not be as much of a mismatch as you think.