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Bear Essentials: Buffalo vs. Boston

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
John Bishop is the beat writer for He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room.
The B's arrived very early this morning and spent the night at a local hotel so as to maximize the amount of rest they get before facing the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.

Last night, with their 2-1 win over Ottawa and Carolina's 4-3 loss to Florida, the B's clinched their first playoff berth since 2004 and ensured that their season would continue.

"I still don't understand why were in," said victorious goalie Tim Thomas on behalf of nearly everyone who looked at the Eastern Conference standings. "But I'll take it."

And believe it or not, the Bruins can finish anywhere from fifth to eight pending the outcome of this weekend's Eastern Conference action. However there is no doubt that the Black & Gold will board Bear Force One midweek for a road trip and at least two games against a top four seed in the East.

I thought there was a little bit of emotion in Coach Claude Julien's face when he spoke to the Boston media about his team and that midweek trip.

"When we started the season, our number one goal was to make the playoffs," said Julien. "And to accomplish that is certainly a credit to the guys in that dressing room.

"We faced a lot of adversity this year -- we've talked about it for a long time and I am not going to elaborate on that -- but they answer the call every time and fought through everything that was thrown at us.

"To be rewarded with a playoff spot is great."

But Coach also said that this is not the end.

"If we are satisfied [just with making the playoffs] it doesn't say much about our team," said Julien. "I know we are not [satisfied] and we have to finish this next game with a purpose, because there is something at stake."

That "something" is upward movement in the standings.

"Then, after that we have to get our focus on the playoffs and…having success," he said.

Julien returned his thoughts to his team, however, and spoke about their chemistry.

"I said at the beginning of the year, that at one point during 82 games, everyone was going to get to be a hero in a game," he said. "And it's happened...and  that's what creates a team.

"There's no doubt that you have your go-to players, your role players, but everybody has to take pride in their role…and appreciate the roles that others are playing," Julien said.

12:00 p.m.
The info is flowing a little easier here today now that the B's are in the playoffs.

But here is the quick rundown of decisions for tonight: Timmy is in goal. Andrew Ference will not be in the lineup. There are no major injuries to anyone who played last night.

12:36 p.m.
How about some more math? Courtesy Boston Bruins PR:

Boston Bruins Playoff Scenarios
With one game remaining in the 2007-2008 regular season, the Bruins can finish as high as 5th or as low as 8th in the Eastern Conference.  Keep in mind the following tiebreaking procedures:  1.  Fewer number of games played (this becomes irrelevant after the end of the regular season and every team has played 82 games). 2. Higher number of wins 3. Total points in season series between the two clubs 4.  Better overall goal differential. 

Also note that Carolina and Washington have no bearing on any playoff position except the third overall seed.  If Washington gains at least a point in their final game of the season, they will win the Southeast Division and earn the three seed while Carolina will be out of the playoffs in 9th place.  If Washington loses in their final game in regulation, they will fall to 9th place while Carolina will secure the Southeast Division title and the three seed.

Below are the various scenarios involving the Bruins:

-The Bruins will finish 5th with any win tonight against Buffalo (regulation or overtime) and a New York Rangers regulation loss Sunday against New Jersey. 
5. BOS- 96 pts, 42 Wins, 7 pts in season series vs. NYR
6. NYR- 96 pts, 42 Wins, 4 pts in season series vs. BOS
(PHI max 95 pts, OTT max 94 pts)

-The Bruins will finish 6th with any win tonight against Buffalo and a New York Rangers win or overtime loss Sunday against New Jersey.
5. NYR- 97 or 98 pts
6. BOS- 96 pts
(PHI max 95 pts, OTT max 94 pts)

-The Bruins will finish 6th with an overtime loss tonight against Buffalo and any Philadelphia Flyers loss (regulation or overtime) on Sunday to Pittsburgh.
5. NYR- min. 96 pts
6. BOS- 95 pts
7. OTT- 94 pts, 43 wins
8. PHI- 93 or 94 pts, 41 wins

-The Bruins will finish 7th with a regulation loss tonight against Buffalo and any Philadelphia Flyers loss Sunday against Pittsburgh.
6. OTT, 94 pts, 43 wins
7. BOS, 94 pts, 41 wins, 6 pts in season series vs. PHI
8. PHI, 93 pts or 94 pts with overtime loss, 41 wins, 4 pts in season series vs. BOS

-The Bruins will finish 7th with an overtime loss tonight against Buffalo and any Philadelphia Flyers win Sunday against Pittsburgh.
6. PHI, 95 pts, 42 wins
7. BOS, 95 pts, 41 wins
8. OTT, 94 pts

-The Bruins will finish 8th with a regulation loss tonight against Buffalo and any Philadelphia Flyers win Sunday against Pittsburgh.
6. PHI, 95 pts, 42 wins
7. OTT, 94 pts, 43 wins
8. BOS, 94 pts, 41 wins

Where is my slide rule when I need it? JB 

4:22 p.m.
A Couple of Bruins are On the Mend

On Saturday, Marc Savard stood before his locker for the first time since a Steve Begin crosscheck sent him to the ice in Montreal and knocked him out of the Boston Bruins lineup.

"Well, you know, I feel a lot better," said Marc. "I'm taking it a step at a time right now and trying to make myself available for game one."

Those two things seem mutually exclusive, taking it a step at a time and trying to make myself available for game one. But Savard is game to try.

"Obviously, there is still a little bit of tension," said Savard of his back. "It's still hurts a bit…but I am working on my conditioning and getting my strength back.

"Hopefully it all comes together."

Savvy was honest as to his still feeling pain.

"It's been an uncomfortable injury, for sure," he said. "It's something that I have never had to deal with, really. And it's been frustrating [to not be able to help], but thank God the boys have done an excellent job."

However, it was clear that the all-star forward has no intensions of sitting out the upcoming playoff series.

"I get to get rid of that little tag: never been to the [NHL] playoffs," Savard said with a smile. "So that's exciting and I've done well in the playoffs -- a long time ago -- so I am excited…to get a chance."

Any writer who has talked to Savard has learned that making the Stanley Cup Playoffs has been an omnipresent goal for the center.

"I needed to get that excitement back in there, to play for something big, and this is going to be a fun time…the trainers have done a great job, especially since the guys have been away, and have really brought it along well.

"This week is going to be key, especially clinching last night. I probably would have tried everything I could to play tonight if it meant [the team] getting in."

Across the locker room, fellow center Patrice Bergeron will go see a Neurologist on Monday or Tuesday.

"I am going to talk to him and we are going to make a decision, with the training staff and coaches…to see if I get cleared for contact.

"And then I am going to need [some] practices to get ready for a game. Right now I am doing a lot of shooting drills and some skating drills, conditioning wise, but it is different thing to go in a game situation."

So we'll wait and see. Good luck, Bergy & Savvy

6:19 p.m.
Almost time for the players to take the ice for warmups.

We're expecting the same lineup as yesterday.

Timmy did lead the team out.

Thibault for Buffalo. Their tough guy Peters is also on the ice as is Numminen. Mike Ryan from Northeastern will be in the lineup, as well. All four Sabres have not seen much time this season.

This is what the rest of it looks like:
Chara-Ward (sg)Thomas
Stuart-Wides (bg)Auld
Alberts-Hnidy Go Bruins!

They are passing out awards to Our Boys: Phil Kessel is the Eddie Shore Award Winner (hustle). Marco Sturm earned Dufresne Award (best at home). Zdeno Chara gets the Bucyk Award (Community) and the Three Stars are Sturm (#3), Marc Savard (#2) and Tim Thomas (#1).


First Period
0:00 Nice and easy boys. Get the first goal and go from there.

2:18 An okay start. But Boston looked a little tired...

4:22 Buffalo is running around with a lot of energy. Tim has already had to make four saves.

8:35 An "Eh" power play.  The B's are a little out of whack, but Buffalo has not been able to start anything real, either.

6:10 Bruins on the PP.

11:50 Nice shift by the fourth line, who put a little thump into the proceedings.

14:01 And a little scrum developed in front of the B's net. Sobotka looked particularly angry at one of the Sabres.

19:12 A late PP for Buf. But Boston looked much better in the last quarter of the first.

20:00 The B's need to turn up the heat just a bit on an undermanned Buffalo squad, but they got out of the first 20 minutes unscathed.

Second Period
0:00 A couple of goals for the Black & Gold are in order.

0:41 Tim's first save of the period.

1:01 Power Play goal for Vanek. Buffalo leads, 1-0.

3:06 Very sloppy start.

6:33 B's on the PK. Muzz saved a goal with a hooking penalty.

8:42 Nice PK, but the B's really have to up their energy.

11:19 B's on the PK again.

11:38 2-0 Buf. Vanek, again.

15:01 Washington and FLA are tied at 1-1.

20:00 Shots are 22-12 after 40 minutes.

Third Period
0:00 Excellent montage got the crowd going at the start of the period.

5:00 Better energy for Boston.

6:57 Reich just creamed Weber.

9:11 Weber in the box. B's on PP.

12:28 Fourth line just had a couple terrific chances. They've been the best tonight.

19:17 Empty netter for Buf. It just wasn't to be on this night, my friends.

20:00 I'll let you know who we're playing asap.

10:11 p.m.
We are playing Montreal. I will pass on scheduling asap.
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