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Game Day: Sabres vs. Bruins

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
6:43 p.m.

Tonight's live blog can be found here. See you there!

6:41 p.m.
The Bruins Lines...

A decent guess at Buffalo's...

6:29 p.m.
It will be Tuukka Rask vs. Jonas Enroth tonight in between the pipes. It looks like both of Team USA's top goalies will have the night off as Ryan Miller will be the Sabres backup.

The B's came out of the tunnel to some hip hop tonight -- not sure of the song lineup. I will try and track this down.

6:01 p.m.
Pregame Pressbox Notes

STORYLINES: The Black and Gold will be facing the Northeast Division leading Buffalo Sabres, who are playing their third game in four nights. After starting the season red hot with an 8-1-1 record through their first 10, the Sabres have dropped two of their last three, including a 5-2 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers last night. Even with the five goals allowed last night, the Sabres have still surrendered the fewest goals in the league with 29.

Buffalo had a 4-2 record against the Bruins last season and have won three straight in the series.

BYRON’S BACK: Byron Bitz is expected to return to the Bruins lineup after missing the last three games due to injury.

STURMY’S TROOPERS: This season Marco Sturm has created “Sturmy’s Troopers,” a charitable program that provides pediatric cancer patients and their families with the opportunity to enjoy the excitement of a live Bruins game at select games throughout the season.  Saturday, November 7th the Sturmy’s Troopers guests are from The Neely House at Tufts Medical Center.  Sturmy’s Troopers receive tickets to a Bruins game, Sturmy’s Troopers jerseys, Bruins goodie bags and will get to meet Marco following the game.

STU SUPPORTS ARMED FORCES, FANS CAN TOO THROUGH BRUINS “SEATS FOR SOLDIERS” PROGRAM: Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart has purchased $5,000 worth of tickets to the Bruins/Panthers game on November 12 and will donate them to local servicemen and women and their families. Fans can follow Stuart’s lead and support the Bruins “Seats for Soldiers” program online at November 12 is “Military Appreciation Night” at the TD Garden.

SPECIAL TEAMS WATCH: The Bruins rank 30th in the NHL on the power play overall (10.9%) and 27th at home (10.5%). They rank 18th on the PK overall (78.8%) and 23rd at home (76.5%).

The Sabres rank tied for 14th on the PP overall (20.6%) and 29th on the road (10.0%). They rank 11th on the PK overall (82.6%) and 11th on the road (82.4%).

3:51 p.m.
Bitz (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Yesterday, the media asked Coach Julien if Byron Bitz was feeling better and whether he would make tonight's game versus the Sabres.

"[He's] Doing better," said Julien, who plays it close to the vest with questions about his game night roster. "Maybe."

Today, Bitz said he was feeling "good. And I hope it stays that way."

Bitz said he didn't have any worries should he hit the ice this evening.

"Injuries are port of the game," said Byron. "It's feeling better and that's a step in the right direction.

"I'm looking forward to getting back out there."

And how?!

Yesterday, Bitz said that it was very, very difficult for him to sit in the pressbox. That was especially so last Thursday against archrival Montreal.

"Well yeah, that was hard," he said. "I mean the guys played hard though and that was good to see, but it’s always tough to sit out."

But Bitz said it was good to see the Bruins battle to the end of regulation, score and get a point out of the game.

"There was no quit and Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] just kept going and everyone was going hard," said Bitz. "It’s one of those things they’re not going in right now and we just got to stay with it and we hopefully we turn it around."

This morning, it sounded as if Bitz hoped to be part of that turnaround and #61 knows exactly what his role will be if he takes his spot next to Shawn Thornton and Steve Begin.

"Be strong on the puck," he said. "Grind the other team down. Find those other guys if they are open.

"Work with Thortie and Beige...and work it down low."

3:33 p.m.
It wasn't all serious sentiment during Coach Julien's pregame presser -- there was a bit of levity concerning the timing of B's team psychiatrist Frank Lodato's latest visit.

So Coach, Did the Bruins make a phone call to Frank?

"We are really looking for something aren’t we?" said Julien with a chuckle. "He was already scheduled before the season starts so we could have been going well and he would have been here [too]. 

In any case, Julien said, "He’s not here for the players, he’s here for the coaching staff."


2:45 p.m.
Bergeron (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
"I don’t know if I’ve seen them enough to start making that perfect analysis of their hockey club," said Coach Julien of the Buffalo Sabres. "But I do know that their goaltender has been really, really good.

"I don’t know how many scoring chances we are going to get per game, whether they are stingy every night or whether their goaltender has been bailing them out.

"So I can’t really answer that except to say that their goaltending has been good," continued Julien. "They have been extremely good offensively, they’ve been aggressive, they’ve got good speed up front.

"So they attack, they throw everything at the net, they come at you hard and they been successful in scoring goals and their goaltender has been good at stopping pucks at the other end. 

"That’s a good recipe for success," he said.

11:00 a.m.
Tuukka Rask was the first goalie off and should be the starter tonight.

10:35 a.m.
The Bruins are on the ice. I see Byron Bitz.

10:03 a.m.

Yesterday in Wilmington's Ristuccia Memorial Arena, Bruins head coach Claude Julien said that the B's have to just play through this recent downturn.

"I think that’s all you can do right now, is just stay with it, stay the course and when...[in] our last five games we’ve done everything but win a hockey game and score goals," said Julien.

"As tough as it is for some people to understand that, it’s unfortunate that that’s what it is," continued Julien, in a frustrated tone. "You have to help your players through it in order for them to turn a corner.

"I don’t think putting added pressure -- the type of pressure that sometimes can make it worse -- is not what they need right now.

"They need...encouragement," he said.

What are some of the things the Bruins could do to stem the tide?

"[Playing] physical, creating shots, creating traffic and if you’re not doing it then you got to show them and if you’re doing it then you got to tell them to stick with it," he said. "We’re doing a lot of work behind the scenes as far as showing guys certain things individually and collectively as a team.

"[We're] just trying to get this thing turned around."

Julien reminded the press that the Bruins are missing some serious firepower.

"We are missing some key players," said Julien in reference to David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Marc Savard. "I think if they were in the lineup we’d obviously have more than one goal, but you live with those situations and you hope that if the guys can stick with it and continue to play a decent game.

And who knows? Maybe this will make the Bruins stronger as the season progresses.

"Eventually down the road that challenge that you’ve gone through is going to pay off and that’s what people seem to forget," said Julien. "When things go well all year long and then you hit a wall at some point, you don’t know how to deal with it.

"Right now we’re having to deal with it."

The Bruins hit the ice for morning skate at 10:30 a.m.
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