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Focused on the Standings

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins -- Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic expects a "hard-fought" game when the Black & Gold (12-7-0 record, 24 points) take on the Buffalo Sabres (12-8-0, 24) tonight in Western New York.

"I think we can talk about whatever happened in the last game, but I think there’s more in stake than just getting revenge," said Lucic (19 games played, 8-7-15 line), whose collision with Buffalo's Ryan Miller left the goalie concussed and out of the lineup.

Lucic maintained that his focus remains simple: a win, two points and first place in the Northeast Divsion.

"I think that’s what we’re focused on more than anything -- just to keep this streak rolling," said Lucic, whose B's have won nine straight games.

That said, the Sabres might be looking to make more of a statement.

"Well obviously they addressed that they weren’t happy with how they responded and they were talking about that for a couple of days," said Lucic, who repeated his account of the encounter with Miller during a 6-2 Boston win on Nov. 12.

"I was barreling down on the puck and my main focus was the puck," he said. "A collision ensued and unfortunately (Ryan) Miller got hurt on the play."

In the wake of that game, Brendan Shanahan, NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations decided not to suspend Lucic.

"The minor penalty called on the ice was the correct call," Shanahan told on November 14. "And, while it's unfortunate that Miller was hurt I saw nothing egregious about this hit that would elevate it to supplemental discipline."

Lucic wouldn't add to the discussion when he spoke to the media in Buffalo on Monday.

"There’s not much more that needs to be said about it. That’s why I said earlier on, I expect a hard-fought game, whatever you want to make it out to be.

"They’re focusing on a win as much as we are."

Even beyond the events of the last game between the two teams, Lucic said, "I know it’s a Wednesday night in November in Buffalo, but it is a big game.

"A lot of people are talking about it and there’s a lot at stake with getting that first place in the division. I think the fans here in Buffalo are going to be excited for it. I know we’re excited for it.

"We’ve been looking forward to this game as much as we have. It’s what makes this game fun and it’s what makes this game interesting - we’re excited for that challenge because we know they’re going to bring their best."

Boston has lost their last two contests in Buffalo and haven't won in the re-named First Niagara Center since a 5-2 win over the Sabres on November 3, 2010.

Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien wants his club to focus on that, rather than any extra curricular rivalries.

"To be honest with you I don’t know," was Julien's answer when he was asked about the possible revenge factor in the contest. "The one thing I’m not going to do is focus on that, because it is a game that’s important for both teams. I think that win is more important than anything right now.

"We’re not the ones looking for revenge," added Julien. "We’re looking to win a hockey game.

"But that’s not a big issue. I think our team has been able to handle teams that have tried to push us around, so that’s not something were even going to lose sleep over. I think it’s a matter of just focusing on the game we have to play and put all our energy into that."
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