Bruins - Sabres preview: Back to normalcy for B's

Bruins - Sabres preview: Back to normalcy for B's
February 26, 2014, 2:45 pm
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(AP Photo)

It’s all about focusing on the task at hand for the Boston Bruins, and acclimatizing to life back in the NHL regular season with the Buffalo Sabres on tap Wednesday night at the First Niagara Center. Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson hopped on the plane with the Bruins Tuesday afternoon, and will play against the Sabres despite flying back to North America at the beginning of the week.

It could be a little strange for those two forwards as they fight through heavy legs in their first time on ice since the gold medal game, but the rest of the Bruins will be looking to recreate the quality of play from their 8-1-2 stretch prior to the Olympic break.

“We had all four lines going, all six D and both goalies playing well. We were just feeding off each other,” said Brad Marchand. “When we had a good shift another line would follow it up. That’s what we need. We need to build it up shift-by-shift, and if we have a bad one then we need to follow it up with a good one.

“Everybody was buying into the system and playing their role. That’s what you need if you want to be good in the playoffs. We want to continue playing that way down the stretch.”

Easier said than done, but that’s the mission for the Black and Gold as they build on a seven point lead in the Atlantic Division with 25 games left in the regular season.

PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRES PUMPED: Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson don’t need their tires pumped with confidence after performing well in the Winter Olympics, but they might need a little energy boost after flying home from Sochi, Russia earlier this week. Both players might be battling a higher level of fatigue than fellow Olympians Zdeno Chara and David Krejci, and Tuukka Rask has already earned the night off while remaining back in Boston. If anybody can power right through the jet lag and time zone difference wall it would be a physical specimen like Bergeron, but it might take a couple of games for those players to get their skating legs back.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: “If anything, to be honest with you, the competition was so good and refreshing that I’ve come back here energized. I’m not tired. I’m ready to go, and I’m looking forward to getting back with my team and getting into games. Whether it’s different three or four from now, maybe I’ll let you know. Right now I feel no effects. If anything the excitement over there [in Sochi] really energized me coming back, and I’m looking to accomplish the same thing with this Bruins team.” –Claude Julien, who is ready to jump back in against the Sabres on Wednesday night despite any weariness from his Olympic participation.


KEY MATCHUP: The Sabres are 30th in the NHL averaging 1.8 goals per game and have the 24th ranked power play in the NHL, but so much of the normal tendencies from both teams should be tossed out the window given that it’s the B's first game out of the Olympic break. At least Buffalo played a game last night, and that should give them a leg up in what’s expected to be a sloppy affair.

STAT TO WATCH: .960 – the save percentage for Bruins starting goaltender Chad Johnson during two appearances at the beginning of February.

INJURIES: Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid (leg) won't play, but the team is hopeful he'll be ready to go by the Saturday matinee against the Washington Capitals. McQuaid has missed nine straight games dating back to Jan. 19. Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg (right knee) is out for the season. Sabres forward Tyler Ennis (undisclosed) is out, while center Zenon Konopka (finger) is day-to-day.

GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: With Tuukka Rask back home in Boston it will be Chad Johnson that’s going to get the start against the Sabres on Wednesday night. Johnson is 4-0-0 in his last five appearances for the Bruins with a .939 save percentage, and has truly shined in the role of Rask’s backup as he’s earned more usage over the last couple of months. Johnson had a 1.00 goals against average and .960 save percentage in his first two games in the month of February.

Ryan Miller started for the Sabres on Tuesday night, so it will be Jhonas Enroth for Buffalo after serving as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup netminder for Team Sweden in the Olympics. It could be a little bit of a challenge for Enroth fighting through the Olympic hangover, but Enroth has had his own problems this season with a 1-12-5 record with a 2.89 GAA and .905 save percentage.