Sure, it’s not nearly equivalent to the 717 games the B’s have played with the Montreal Canadiens, or the 644 they’ve played with the Toronto Maple Leafs – but playing a team as frequently as division rivals do, it's enough to stir the metaphorical pot.
“I think we play each other so much, it’s an inter-division rival – same as Toronto, Montreal,” Bruins forward Shawn Thornton
said. “We play these guys enough that it creates some animosity, I suppose, and that’s good for the game.”
The Bruins (39-23-3) are playing their fifth of six matchups with the Sabres, who are closing in on the eight and final playoff spot in the Eastern conference.
Buffalo (31-28-8, 70 points) is 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, and is tied with the Washington Capitals for ninth in the Eastern Conference. However, both teams are just two points away from the eight-place Winnipeg Jets, who own the last spot with 72 points.
“They might be desperate, but they’re also playing great hockey,” Head Coach Claude Julien said
. “I like the way they’ve played lately, they’ve been a really good team and they’re playing with a lot of confidence – getting great goaltending, and their power play has been a really big asset to them.
“I think those are all things we have to be aware of tonight. And again, they’ve really played us well the last time we’ve played them.”
This season, the Bruins are 2-1-1 against the Sabres – the only team against whom the B’s have never swept a season series from.
After winning the first two games back in November, the Black & Gold have lost their last two contests against them – a 6-0 loss Feb. 8 and a 2-1 shootout loss Feb. 24.
“They have a lot of speed – [good] goaltending obviously,” Thornton said. “They’re very opportunistic up front. If they get a chance, they’re pretty good at burying it. So we have to be on top of our game every time we play them because they seem to do pretty well against us.”--- Anthony Gulizia