- The last time the Buffalo Sabres faced off against the Bruins was just 10 days ago at TD Garden. The Bruins uncharacteristically surrendered a 3-1 lead and struggled defensively in the third period, allowing the Sabres to score four goals and ultimately escape Causeway Street with a 7-4 win.
Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta, who returned on Saturday after missing five games with a neck injury, says that despite giving the Bruins a bit of a beating during their last match-up, his team still has to be at its best to beat the Black & Gold.
“It’s been a good rivalry the past little while here,” said Kaleta, following his team’s morning skate at First Niagara Center. “They’re a good team, a really good team, we have to be at our best to compete and go out there and go out there and try to dictate play.”
Sabres defenseman Robyn Regehr, who is expected to return tonight after missing six games with a lower-body injury sustained on January 27, is looking forward to shoring things up on the back end. He feels that the Sabres, who are playing a second night of a back-to-back and their third game in four days, are giving up too many scoring chances and is looking to step back in and make a difference against the Bruins.
“Especially chances against, shots are getting too high and we’re giving up too many quality chances,” said Regehr on what his team can improve. “If you do that too much, you’re going to pay the price. We’re looking to improve in areas and also keep on winning. Hopefully, I can provide a bit of excitement, enthusiasm after being out for a couple weeks.”
Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien was pleased with his team’s offensive play against the Sabres in the last match-up, but he, too, is looking to get his team to tighten things up in their own end.
“When you look at the scoring chances we had and [Ryan] Miller played well,” Julien said. “We still scored four goals and usually that’s good enough for us for a win. We had 20-something scoring chances which is more than we’ve ever had.
“But, at the other end we had major breakdowns. We left our goalie hanging on a lot of those. There’s no doubt we’d like to continue the offensive trend that we’ve had against them, but we want to tighten up defensively.”
Regehr got more in depth with his description of the intangibles that allow a team to play good defense, explaining that the quicker a defenseman gets back into the corner for the puck and the quicker they can then move the puck up to the forwards, the more successful the team will be.
“If you kind of get bogged down in the corner, what happens is it gives the other team a chance to set up their forecheck and usually be very effective at it,” Regehr explained. “If we as defenseman can get back there quickly, get the puck moving, get it into the hands of our forwards as soon as possible, usually you can break down the opposition’s forecheck and you can start attacking the other way, which I think is a real strength of our team.”
Defenseman Tyler Myers was the healthy scratch on Saturday against the Islanders and may be the scratch again tonight, due to his own struggles defensively.
Regehr spoke in length about what players like Myers need to do when they are going through a rough patch. Most importantly, Regehr said, is to simplify things and focus on a few areas each game that need improving. Once that happens, some confidence starts to build.
“It’s just a matter of focusing on his game and when things aren’t going as well as you hope as a player. There are stretches like that and you’re confidence is down or you don’t feel that you can do the things you want to out there,” Regehr said of Myers.
“You just have to bring it down a level or two just to the basics and say, ‘you know what, I’m going to do these four or five things out there tonight, that’s what I’m going to focus on and that’s it.’ And once you start gaining a little bit of momentum, a little bit of confidence in yourself, you start building your game back up again.
“It sounds simple, but it’s hard when you’ve got some mistakes that are running through your mind that you’ve made in the past game or previous couple games, stuff like that. You just have to try to learn from that and move on. Sometimes a guy’s worst enemy is himself because he gets down.”