Just the Facts:
The Time: 7:00PM EST
The Place: TD Garden, Boston, MA
Place to watch: TVAS, SN1, SNE, MSG-B, NESN
Place to Listen: 98.5 The Sports Hub
Opposing SBNation Blog: Die By The Blade
Know your Enemy:
Naturally, captain Jack Eichel leads the Sabres in scoring, with 13 goals and 12 assists (25 points). Second-year defenseman Rasmus Dahlin has him tied in assists, and beyond that... nobody has double-digits in either category. Sam Reinhart, Jeff Skinner, Viktor Olufson, and Marcus Johansson are the only other Sabres with double-digit points. Oh, and Jimmy Vesey has just two assists in 18 games.
...which is a similar situation as the Boston Bruins. Just six players are in double-digits for points. David Pastrnak has a 19-15—34 line going, only slightly outpaced by Brad Marchand’s 13-22—35. Patrice Bergeron is third at 19. Sooo... depth is an issue for both teams. Still, advantage to the Bruins and that Perfection Line. Another similarity: in the last seven games, neither team has been winning much: Buffalo has one win in its last seven games, and Boston has just two. The Bruins earned two extra loser points, which... helps? (And, side note: Eichel scored all four goals in their win against the Senators. All snipes.)
There’s more to Buffalo’s woes, though. Boston has been dealing with short-ish-term injuries to players as they go (yes, we’re excluding the not-necessarily-disadvantaging offseason recoveries of John Moore and Kevan Miller). The Sabres have known since April that Zach Bogosian would be missing significant time, and he’s still off the ice but may be nearing his season debut. Matt Hunwick ended up on what looks like season-long LTIR with a neck issue as of early October. As recently as the last week, forwards Johansson (short term), Johan Larsson (s/t), Vladimir Sobotka (4-6 weeks) and Kyle Okposo (indefinite, concussion) have been sidelined. The first two could return tonight; the latter two will be on the shelf for a while.
Boston’s drubbing of the New Jersey Devils earlier this week seemed inevitable; then again, every shootout loss over the last couple of weeks also felt like it could have been avoided. Still, it was a good sign that young players can slide up the lineup in hopefully-brief absences of the team’s top offensive defenseman.
Possibly returning tonight is Patrice Bergeron, which begs an interesting question: does Krejci with the wunderwings make more sense? They’ve done quite well; and, Cassidy employed an interesting tactic in overlapping Charlie Coyle shifts with the top two wingers, shortening the bench slightly and giving Coyle the most forward minutes in the game for Boston. It also was apparent that Cassidy was not f#%kin’ around... because McAvoy and Chara played north of 22 minutes each. Shut ‘em down, indeed.
As mentioned above, there could also be some forwards returning for Buffalo; guess we’ll have to wait and see as the day progresses. And we’ll get to welcome Colin Miller back to TD Garden.
This should be a fun game to watch! Maybe we’ll get Saint Patrice back in the lineup??