Breaking down the Bruins-Sabres series

The Bruins put on a late season surge to move up the standings to the 6th spot in the Eastern Conference and will now take on the #3 seeded Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern Conrefernce Quarterfinals. The action gets underway on Thursday night at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo.

Series Schedule

Thursday, April 15th @ Buffalo 7:00 NESN

Saturday, April 17th @ Buffalo 1:00 NBC

Monday, April 19th vs. Buffalo 7:00 NESN and Versus (out of market)

Wednesday, April 21st vs. Buffalo 7:00 NESE and Versus (out of market)

Friday, April 23rd @ Buffalo 7:00 NESN (if needed)

Monday, April 26th vs. Buffalo 7:00 NESN (if needed)

Wednesday, April 28th @ Buffalo 7:00 NESN (if needed)

Season Series

The Bruins were 4-2-0 vs. Buffalo this season. Two of those wins came in overtime or the shootout. Neither of the two regulations wins for the Bruins came with Ryan Miller in net for the Sabres.

4/8 vs. Buffalo 3-1 W

3/29 vs. Buffalo 3-2 L

2/9 @ Buffalo 3-2 SO W

1/29 @ Buffalo 3-2 L

11/20 @ Buffalo 2-1 OT W

11/7 vs. Buffalo 4-2 W

Injury Report

Boston

Out for the Series: Mark Stuart (finger), Dennis Seidenberg (wrist) & Marc Savard (concussion)

Probable for Thursday: Andrew Ference (hernia)

Buffalo

Doubtful for Thursday's Game: Drew Stafford (concussion) & Jochen Hecht (finger)

Probable for Thursday's Game: Tim Connelly (foot)

In Net


Tuukka Rask

#40 / Goalie / Boston Bruins

6-3

169

Mar 10, 1987



GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2009 - Tuukka Rask 45 2562 22 12 84 1.97 1221 1137 .931 5


VS.

Ryan Miller

#30 / Goalie / Buffalo Sabres

6-2

175

Jul 17, 1980




GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2009 - Ryan Miller 69 4047 41 18 150 2.22 2098 1948 .929 5


Both teams rely very heavily on their goaltenders. The Bruins will likely start rookie sensation Tuukka Rask throughout the series, while Buffalo will look to the capable hands of Ryan Miller to hold down the fort for the Sabres. Rask has been impressive in his first full season in the NHL. The young Finnish netminder finished the year with the best save percentage (.931) and GAA (1.97) in the National Hockey League. Meanwhile, Ryan Miller has been a rock in net for the Sabres all season long, compiling a record of 41-18-8 to go along with a 2.22 GAA and .929 save percentage. This will be the first NHL playoff experience for Rask, however he did gain some valuable postseason experience with the Providence Bruins in the Calder Cup playoffs the past two seasons. At the other end end of the ice, Miller has 34 games of NHL playoff experience under his belt. If either goalie falters in this series, both teams have the luxury of having veteran goaltenders on their bench with NHL playoff experience in Tim Thomas and Patrick Lalime.

Edge: Slight Edge to Buffalo (based on experience)

Up Front

The Bruins finished the regular season as the lowest scoring team in the National Hockey League (2.39 goals per game) and the injury to Marc Savard leaves them without a playmaker up front. Patrice Bergeron (19-33-52) and David Krejci (17-35-52) led the B's in points, while Marco Sturm was the team's lone 20 goal scorer with 22 tallies.

The Sabres were 10th in the league in scoring with 2.82 goals per game. The Sabres had four players reach the 20 goal mark: Thomas Vanek (28), Derek Roy (26), Jason Pominville (24), and Jochen Hecht (21).

Edge: Buffalo

Department of Defense

The defense has been one of the strong points for the Boston Bruins this season, giving up 2.33 goals per game.(second in NHL). While the blue line has dealt with poor individual play (see #6 in your program) and injuries throughout the season, the overall play has been pretty strong. The injuries to Mark Stuart and Dennis Seidenberg will certainly hurt the B's in their own zone, but young players like Johnny Boychuk and Adam McQuaid have stepped up their games when needed. Te oft-injured Andrew Ferrence is expected to return for a hernia issue sometime during this series. Hopefully, the Bruins back line can hold up to the Sabres' forechecking pressure better than they did last season against the Hurricanes.

Rookie phenom Tyler Myers finished his freshman season in Buffalo with 48 points (11-37-48) and a +13 rating. Aside from Myers, the Sabres have a fairly solid core of serviceable defenseman in Craig Rivet, Henrik Tallinder, and Toni Lydman,.. and oh yeah, they have Steve Montador too.

Edge: Boston...you try skating around or through Big Z

Special Teams

Both teams have been great on the penalty kill and struggled on the power play this season.

Penalty Kill: Buffalo 86.6% (2nd in NHL); Boston 86.4% (3rd in NHL)

Power Play: Buffalo 17.6% (17th in NHL); Boston 16.6% (23rd in NHL)

Edge: Slight Edge to Buffalo

Behind The Bench

Claude Julien has led the Bruins to 3 straight playoff appearances. Lindy Ruff is longest tenured coach in the league and is in his 13th season with Buffalo.

Edge: Buffalo...13 season without getting fired is impressive

Players to Watch:

The Goaltenders: This one has all the right ingredients for a great goalie duel.

Tyler Myers: How will the kid react to the playoff atmosphere?

Patrice Bergeron: Will Bergy be the guy that steps up to lead this team?

Keys to the Series for the Bruins

- Put the damn puck in the net!!!!!

- Win at least one of the first two in Buffalo.

- Get back to playing a more physical brand of hockey.

- Forecheck! The B's have struggled to find the back of the net this season. Pressure the Buffalo puck carriers and create more chances.

- Don't let that gutless P.O.S. Patrick Kaleta bait you into any dumb penalties.

Keys to the Series for the Sabres

- Challenge Rask early in the series.

- Win two in Buffalo.

- Take chances: the Bruins have struggled to score goals, so why not take a few chances and try to create some odd-man rushes?

Probable Lines & D-Pairs for Game 1

Boston (according to Boston.com)

Patrice Bergeron
Marco Sturm
David Krejci
Begin/Whitfield
Thornton/Marchand
Johnny Boychuk
Andrew Ference
Adam McQuaid

 

Buffalo

Tyler Ennis - Tim Connolly - Jason Pominville
Tim Kennedy - Derek Roy - Thomas Vanek
Paul Gaustad - Adam Mair - Mike Grier / Jochen Hecht
Patrick Kaleta - Matt Ellis - Raffi Torres / Nathan Gerbe

Henrik Tallinder - Tyler Myers
Chris Butler - Craig Rivet
Toni Lydman - Andrej Sekera

Prediction: Buffalo in 7

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