Pre-Game Report: 11/7 Buffalo Sabres @ Boston Bruins (7:00 on NESN)

It’s the last night of America as we know it, so let’s watch some hockey!

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For the first time this season, the Buffalo Sabres make the trip to the TD Garden, as the Bruins play the hosts for the 2nd game in a row. The B’s are looking to bounce back from another 5-2 blow from the Rangers on Saturday, and hoping to improve to 7-5-0 on the year. The Bruins will catch a break, tonight, as the Sabres are still without young star, Jack Eichel. One of the only good things to come out of Buffalo last season was Eichel, but after going down in camp with a high-ankle sprain, he has not played at all this season.

The Bruins (6-5-0) have once again, and much to the dismay of their fan base, have started slow at home this season. They carry just a 1-3-0 record in Boston, heading into tonight’s game. It’s something that doesn’t sit well with us, the fans, as we had grown quite accustomed to seeing the Bruins dominate at the Garden for the early part of the decade. The last two years, though, have filled us with fear every time we see the hometown boys take the ice. What used to be a penciled-in win, is now a game where even an overtime loss is considered a steal. We are the underdogs in our own house, and you can’t make the playoffs by losing at home. Despite the poor numbers at home, I do feel tonight is a game Boston should easily get the win. They have had Buffalo’s number every time the two teams have played of late (except for the 2 goal lead we blew last year that we won’t talk about), and without Eichel, the Sabres don’t have a tangible offensive threat. So can the Bruins prove me right and win this one at home? Let’s take a look.

HISTORY

600x403px-ll-8b26017f_lucic-miller-hit-300x201
 

Ryan Miller gets laid out by Milan Lucic

 

All-time, the Bruins hold a 131-110-40 record against Buffalo (131 wins, 110 losses, 23 ties, 17 overtime losses). However, over the last 3 seasons, the Bruins have opened up a 9-2-2 record against the crossed-swords. Many of the games have been close, even going into overtime, but the Bruins have had the upper hand. The games are always tightly-contested, and full of action, and you never know who’s going to hit whom. Hell, we even saw Milan Lucic destroy Ryan Miller a few years back! Remember when John Scott fought and injured Shawn Thornton? Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.

TUUKKA TIME AGAIN? – 

rangers2.jpg

Claude, What are you doing? seriously? Did you not look at the schedule before making this decision? Tuukka Rask was the first goalie off the ice this morning, suggesting that he will be making the start between the pipes tonight. I can’t fathom why he would start tonight, considering Montreal is next on the schedule, TOMORROW NIGHT! Seeing as he was hurt throughout a lot of the Rangers’ game (or looked it, at least), I doubt he’s playing both games. This is a game we could probably win without him, and he needs the rest. Save him for the tougher opponent tomorrow. It just doesn’t make sense to me. He has had a great start, with the New York loss the only asterisk on his 2016-17 resume, but he’s also been battling some sort of leg injury that has proven to be an issue in a few games this year. I don’t know why they are playing him tonight (in case you couldn’t tell)

JIMMY HAYES BENCHED – 

Jimmy Hayes is expected to be a healthy scratch again tonight. Outside of the shootout winner, Hayes has not scored a single point this season. Even still, shootout goals don’t count for anything but the score, so he really is…pointless. And, so is his spot on the roster. I think he should be traded, but I’ll take him being on the bench, because it allows Austin Czarnik to slot into the 3rd line on the right-wing. Czarnik, a rookie, already is outscoring  Jimmy, despite playing seven games to Hayes’s 10. I really don’t like Hayes…

Anyway, it’s time for tonight’s 3 Keys to the Game!

1. Fix the Power Play –

The B’s are not god on the power play this season. After reaching all the way to 29th before Saturday’s game, they once again fins themselves at the bottom of the league. On Saturday, the Bruins basically had a -67% efficiency, giving up 2 goals on 3 attempts ON THEIR OWN POWER PLAY!!! That’s not how you win games, guys. They NEED to get those numbers, at least to the middle of the league, and it needs to start soon.

2. Keep using Pastrnak – 

Look, if the rest of the team isn’t scoring, find the guy who is. David Pastrnak has been red hot for Boston so far. He has 7 goals, and has scored in the last three he has played in. The whole top line has been good, but Pasta is standing out from the pack, so why not use him? This could go with key 1, if they swap him with Krejci on the first PP unit. He has a hell of a slapshot, and is quick enough to get back to the puck. He and Krug could wreak havoc from the blue line.

3. Can We Please Play The Second Period Too? – 

You’re probably as tired of reading it, as I am of typing it, but the Bruins need to play every minute. Particularly in the second period of games. They have a -5 goal differential in the 2nd frame, and it is where we have seen several games turned around by other teams. If we fix the second, we fix the first and third, and we fix our team.

Projected Line-up:

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Spooner-Krejci-Backes

Beleskey-Nash-Hayes

Schaller-Moore-Acciari

Defense

Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Liles-C Miller

Goalies

Rask

McIntyre

MY LINEUP

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Spooner-Nash-Backes

Beleskey-Krejci-Czarnik

Schaller-Moore-Acciari

Defense

Chara-Carlo

Krug-C Miller

Liles-McQuaid

Goalies

McIntyre

Rask

*Krejci hasn’t played up-to-par with what you’d expect from him, moving down a line could give him a boost.

What do you expect from tonight’s game? Can the B’s find their winning ways at home? Who do you start in net tonight? Let me know in the comments! Go B’s!

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