One by one, the Bruins are carving through the National Hockey League.
Losing just three times since the turn of the calendar year — and only once in regulation — the Bruins have steamrolled their way toward the top of the NHL standings. They sit just three points behind the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning with two games in hand.
There’s a chance come Monday that the Bruins will surpass the Bolts (at home Saturday night vs. the Los Angeles Kings) in the standings. First things first is another set of back to backs beginning Saturday with the lowly Buffalo Sabres and concluding 24 hours later in Newark against the New Jersey Devils.
Looking for affordable parking and a quick in and out for Bruins-Sabres tonight? Head over Constitution Wharf (1 Constitution Rd.) – a short walk to TD Garden – and avoid the traffic and construction on Causeway St. Mention Bruins Daily at the entrance for a prepaid rate of $12!
Gametime: 7 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 33-11-8 (74 points), Sabres 15-29-10 (40 points)
Location: TD Garden
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk-David Krejci-Ryan Spooner
Danton Heinen-Riley Nash-David Backes
Tim Schaller-Sean Kuraly-Austin Czarnik
Zdeno Chara-Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug-Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk-Adam McQuaid
Sabres projected lines
Evan Rodrigues-Jack Eichel-Sam Reinhart
Evander Kane-Ryan O’Reilly-Kyle Okposo
Scott Wilson-Johann Larsson-Jason Pominville
Benoit Pouliot-Jacob Josefson-Jordan Nolan
Nathan Bealieau-Rasmus Ristolainen
Marco Scandella-Casey Nelson
Josh Gorges-Viktor Antipin
– With their second set of back to backs this week, Bruce Cassidy will split goaltending duties again with Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin. The same rotation from their first set of back to backs in Detroit and New York will stay in place with Rask getting the home nod Saturday and Khudobin starting Sunday’s road tilt. A win or overtime appearance for Rask will extend his unbeaten streak to 22 straight games and put him one behind Frank Brimsek (23 in 1940-41) for the third-longest unbeaten streak in team history.
– Despite practice in a regular contact jersey Friday, Noel Acciari will miss at least one more game with a lower-body injury. This gives another chance for Austin Czarnik to make his case for staying at the NHL level. Czarnik has been quite productive since being called up last week as he’s filled in nicely on the fourth line, been a solid contributor on the power play and showcasing his potential. With assists in each of his three games, Czarnik is finding ways to produce as some of his fellow teammates, like Acciari, Anders Bjork and Frank Vatrano, heal their wounds.
– For the third time this week, the Bruins are facing a team that will likely be sellers come the trade deadline. One hot name in the rumor mill will be front and center tonight in Evander Kane. Though Kane would be an ideal fit to skate with David Krejci, his well-documented behavior on and off the ice is a red flag. Despite that, entering Saturday’s game with a 10-game scoring drought, Kane’s talents would be a good fit for a team in need of a top-six winger. Given the tight locker room relationship and their success, bringing in Kane would be risky, and it’s safe to assume GM Don Sweeney won’t pursue the enigmatic forward unless the Sabres drop their asking price.