The Bruins faltered yesterday afternoon as they headed to Philadelphia and completely bombed, losing by a total of 3-1. Today they have a lot of work and redeeming to do if they hope to come out victorious against a bewildering hot and cold Buffalo team.
Tonight marks the fourth time the Sabres and Bruins will meet on the season, the Sabres holding a 2-1 advantage three-quarters of the way through the season against the B’s. If the Bruins plan on coming out on top today, there are a lot of things that they are going Tobago to do differently. For starters, they’re going to need to get their shots on net. The only way to score goals is by getting the puck to the back of the net, I know stating the obvious, but it’s something the Bruins seem to have forgotten. Yesterday the majority of the team looked like a group of rookies as they fanned on one-timers, made bad passes and failed to connect on others. They’re looking like a rookie team rather than a top 5 Stanley Cup contender.
They need to focus on getting the first goal and work on the momentum that builds from that moment on. For the past 5 games straight the Bruins have given up the first goal scored and have had to play catch up. To quote Claude Julien;
You fall behind again and now you’re playing catch up hockey and it is catching up to us.-95.9 WEEI radio interview
The most important shift after a goal is scored, by either team, is the shift that follows. At least four times this season there have been two goals scored within the span of a vulnerable minute, once being a three-goal span in 69seconds against Philly in their first meeting of the season. They need to get back to playing simple Bruins hockey. The dump and chase game hasn’t been working against offensive powerhouses like Pittsburgh, but coil potentially be the best way to break down the Sabres defense. They’re going to need to play tight in the neutral zone and have crisp, clean passes in order for the dump an chase to work. As log as the Marchand-Bergeron-Seguin line is on their game and ring their speed, this shouldn’t be an issue.
They’ll also want to capitalize on their power play unit. It is almost a guarantee that the Bruins will go on at least a pair of power plays tonight as the tempers and emotions get flowing from both teams. They’re main focus has to be to keep possession of the puck and set something up. Rebounds will be their key asset so long as they have guys like Lucic or Seguin out front to pot them in.
The Sabres are going to be looking for redemption tonight as well after dropping to the Capitals last night despite a fairly solid sixty minute effort. They’ll be looking to make up the errors against a floundering Bruins squad that may or may not be ready to play big and bad hockey tonight.
Focusing on consistency, scoring, passing and rebounds the Bruins should stand a chance against the Sabres squad, but only if there is a unified twenty-man effort for the full sixty minutes.
The puck drops at 7:30PM tonight on NESN, be sure to tune in for commentary from Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley.