Ok True Believers, here is another early big game for our superheroes, and the first real "four pointer" of the year for our up-and-coming ice hockey squad.
Unfortunately, the Bruins come in slightly banged up as more than likely they have three regulars down for this game and have called up forward Nate Thompson from the Baby B’s in Providence.
Mark Stuart had off-season knee surgery and remains out indefinitely. Andrew Alberts has a separated shoulder and he is now out indefinitely. Marco Sturm has that lingering knee contusion and is day-to-day, while Mark Mowers, although healthier than previously thought is essentially day-to-day with a shoulder strain.
F.Y.I. In four games for the P-Bruins, Thompson is 0-1-1, with seven penalty minutes.
The Bruins starter this evening, Hannu Toivonen, is 2-2-0 with a .900 sv%, and a 3.10 GAA. Lifetime versus Buffalo, Hannu is 0-1-0 with a 4.07 GAA in 1 game.
Although he seemed calm in the dressing room this morning, Hannu could not hide his excitement on being able to face Buffalo.
"Just look at their lineup," said Toivonen of the Sabres. "It’s a strong offensive lineup. We have to make sure we play the game in their zone, which they are probably not that comfortable with, and make sure we defend as a team.
"And we have to try not to make any mistakes in the neutral zone…try to force them to make mistakes…and get a couple of goals."Scouting the Bad Guys
Right now, the Sabres are the mettle of the NHL. They are undefeated at 7-0-0 and are 1st in the Northeast Division.
Led by their tenured head coach Lindy Ruff, and co-captains Chris Drury and Danny Briere, the Sabres have kept their long time play-by-play announcer Rick Jeanneret (remember La-la-la-la-la-LaFontaine?) in good voice throughout the first month of the 2006-07 campaign.
You could argue either way about the benefits/debits for either squad in terms of Buffalo’s having played last evening.
However, when the Sabres came out of the shoot a little slow yesterday Coach Ruff (great hockey name, don’t you think), hit the gas and this high performance unit outgunned the Stanley Cup Champion Carolina Hurricanes, 5-4, on Friday night.
The Sabres have a scary tendency to look like a blue and yellow tornado after a first period of slightly off-kilter skating -- the calm before the storm. But once the funnel cloud appears, there seems to be no escaping it.
By the way, only a few members of the Buffalo squad were on hand for this morning’s skate at the TD Banknorth Garden, including both goalies.
Martin Biron was the first goalie off the ice this morning and traditionally that means he has the start. Biron has played only once this season and has a 1-0-0 record, with a .919 sv% and a 3.01 GAA. His last game was a 4-3 win over Ottawa on October 7.
Although not thought of as a traditional rival in the vein of New York or Montreal, the Buffalo sabers have been a thorn in the side of our favorite family of Bears for some time.
Boston is 102-91-29-1 all-time vs. the Sabres with a 742-728 scoring advantage in those 223 games. On home ice, the Bruins are 62-35-14-0 all-time vs. Buffalo with a 412-325 scoring edge in those 111 contests.
Tonight the Bruins would like to reverse a disturbing stat, as they were 1-7-0 last season versus the Sabres.
The Bruins are pumped for the game tonight as evidenced by my chat with Shean Donovan.
"We’ve got a good team in here," said Donovan. "We’re getting better and better. You know, they’ve been together for a while so they’ve built up that chemistry for two years…we’re excited for this challenge. We’re going to have a good game tonight."Bruins Speak
"Every time we play at home it’s always nice, especially when my family is here. They don’t get a chance to see games live that often so it’s always nice to have them down."Forward, Patrice Bergeron, on playing in front of family and friends
"You have to make sure you are prepared to face them…the coaches will provide us with info and it is our job to go out there and do it. You’ve just got to believe in our system, do the right things within the system and we should be alright."Goalie, Hannu Toivonen, on facing the Sabres
"It should be a good game…I’m pretty calm…but this is my second game of the season, so there might be a little more pressure on me."Defenseman, Milan Jurcina, on nerves before the game
"You’ve just got to support your teammates and help them prepare for the game as best you can from the position you are in. You know, when you first find out that you are not playing, you might be a little disappointed, and think about it for awhile, but then by the time…the next day rolls around, you’ve dealt with it and you have to just go work hard in practice to give everybody a good pre-game skate and show up and be supportive at the game."Goalie, Tim Thomas, on being the back-up goaltender on a given evening