BRUINS (5-6-0) at SABRES (2-8-0)
TV: NESN, MSG-B, BELL TV
The Sabres had a franchise-worst 10 shots on goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 4-0 loss Tuesday. Coach Ted Nolan put the players through a long, tough practice Wednesday and the team had an optional skate Thursday morning. Forward Cody Hodgson was demoted to the fourth line, and alongside rookie Sam Reinhart and Nicolas Deslauriers.
"We had a good meeting with him," Nolan said. "We showed some video. We ran through some things to try to get Cody to being better -- as all our players. We had 1-on-1 chats with a lot of guys and he was one of them."
Nolan said the Sabres will have a change on defense against the Bruins as either Tyson Strachan or Nikita Zadorov will draw into the lineup to replace another defenseman. Strachan and Zadorov each have played one game this season. Both will skate in pregame warmups.
Reinhart will play his ninth game of the season, which means the Sabres will have to decide whether they will send him back to Kootenay in the Western Hockey League. The first year of Reinhart's entry-level contract kicks in once he plays his 10th game.
"Obviously I can't let that get to me. I haven't yet," Reinhart said. "So when I start worrying or thinking into it too much now, I'm going to keep playing my game and show them what I can do. We're going to come out with a better effort tonight and that's the most important thing. Whatever I can do to help our team win [Thursday] is what I'm going to do."
The Bruins head into the game with a few key injuries on defense. Boston will be without three of their top defensemen, with captain Zdeno Chara (knee), Torey Krug (broken finger), and Kevan Miller (dislocated shoulder) all out. David Warsofsky and Joe Morrow were recalled from Providence of the American Hockey League on Wednesday, and Matt Bartkowski, who played 8:56 in a 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, also may play.
"You try building up his confidence by saying, 'Just go out there and play,'" Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Bartkowski. "We all know that he's been a player that was very serviceable last year. When a guy like [Dennis] Seidenberg went down he [Bartkowski] played in our top four and I thought he did a good job. Right now he's maybe half that player and I think a lot of it has to do with confidence. He makes one little mistake and he gets down on himself."
It's not just the defense that's banged up as forward Brad Marchand left practice Wednesday after "tweaking" something. Julien said it will be a game-time decision whether Marchand will play. If he can't go, Matt Fraser will play in his place.
Here are the projected lineups:
Injured: Patrick Kaleta (jaw)
Status update: Gagne's tour of the Bruins lineup now has him on a line with Bergeron. Most recently he had been playing on the fourth line; he's also seen time on the top line with Krejci and Lucic. ... The debate about who sits out on defense for Buffalo likely comes down to either Meszaros or Benoit.
Who's hot: The Bruins' Griffith is coming off a two-goal, three-point game against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.