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Preview: Bruins back in action, start new year against Sabres

It’s been a long break from hockey, but now all Bruins have returned from COVID protocol to start 2022.

Boston Bruins v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Rob Marcyznski/NHLI via Getty Images

Just the facts

When: Today, 1:00 PM

Where: TD Garden – Boston, MA

How to follow: NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub

Rival SBN site: Die By The Blade

Know your enemy

  • 10-17-5, 25PTS, 6th in Atlantic Division
  • Kyle Okposo: 32GP, 7G, 14A, 21PTS; Tage Thompson: 32GP, 12G, 8A, 20PTS; Rasmus Dahlin: 32GP, 6G, 14A, 20PTS
  • Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen: 2-3-1, 2.30 GAA, .932 save percentage; Malcolm Subban: 0-2-1, 4.56 GAA, .876 save percentage

Game notes

  • Happy New Year everyone! Let’s hope it’s a refreshed start for the Boston Bruins who haven’t seen game action in over two weeks as COVID-19 forced postponements and a league shutdown.
  • And it’s only about right for the way that this season has gone that the Bruins are just having their first game back while the Buffalo Sabres and other teams already restarted this week.
  • This afternoon’s match is the third meeting being the two clubs this season. The Bruins won both previous games (4-1 on October 22, 2021 and 5-1 on November 24, 2021). David Pastrnak, Charlie Coyle and Taylor Hall each netted a goal apiece in both wins. The Bruins have netted three power-play goals against the Sabres this season.
  • Today’s game is also the first of 16 games this month for the Bruins, including 10 home games and a seven-game homestand.
  • The Bruins last played on December 16, 2021 in a game against the New York Islanders that everyone would like to forget. With several players in COVID protocol, including Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, the team fell 3-1 to the Islanders on the road before the string of postponed games followed.
  • But now all the Bruins are back from protocol! Coyle was the last one on the Bruins’ list and he returned to practice yesterday.
  • The Sabres have played two games since the NHL resumed play this week. Buffalo dropped both games – a 4-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils on December 29, 2021 and a 4-1 loss to the Islanders the following day. Luukkonen and Subban each allowed three even-strength goals and one power-play goal in their losses.
  • The Bruins’ lines will be shuffled today to try to get some offense going throughout the forwards’ group. From practice lines yesterday, Craig Smith has shifted up with Marchand and Bergeron. Erik Haula will center Hall and Pastrnak. Coyle slides down to center Jake DeBrusk and Nick Foligno while Trent Frederic, Tomas Nosek and Curtis Lazar round out the fourth line.
  • Linus Ullmark will start in net, while Jeremy Swayman gets the back-half of this weekend’s game. Ullmark is 7-5-0 this season with a 2.52 GAA and .922 save percentage. Against Buffalo in his first game of the season, he made 35 saves for the win and had a .972 save percentage.

See ya soon!