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by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
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So much to get to before game one Thursday night, so here we go:

The match up against the Bruins is not an easy one, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s the playoffs, it’s supposed to be difficult.  Don’t buy into any of the garbage you hear about the team would have rather played Philly or Montreal, etc.  You get in, finish as high as you can, and to quote Lindy Ruff, “get after it”. 

That’s what it’s all about, getting after it.  The Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy to win in sports.  It takes 16 wins against the best competition.  There is not easy out.  Montreal will give Washington all they can handle.  Philly will do the same to New Jersey, and so on.  Should be fun to watch.  Always is.

Am I worried about the Bruins winning four of six games against the Sabres this year, with two of them at HSBC Arena? Sure, who wouldn’t be?  But you have to go inside the numbers and wins to remember what happened. 

The Bruins won two of the games back in November, ancient history in my book.  So let’s look at the other four games played since January 29.  The Sabres jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Henrik Tallinder and Thomas Vanek on the power play.  It was lockdown from there, en route to the 2-1 win.   Ryan Miller made 30 saves. 

Two weeks later on February 9, the Sabres came out flatter than the earth was thought to be before Columbus’ voyage and lost 3-2 in a shootout.  Remember Dan Paille potted two goals in the first period, one from a horrible angle?  If he had the effort every night, he never would have been dealt.  The Sabres woke up and tied the game with goals from Derek Roy and Tyler Myers, but lost on David Krejci’s shootout winner.  A horrible effort in honoring Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame inductees Jim Lorentz and Joe Crozier who were enshrined before the game, and it was the fifth straight loss for the Sabres.  

So far, 1-0-1 in 2010 vs. Bruins. 

The next game was on March 29 and didn’t start out well for the Sabres in TD Garden.  Marco Sturm was awarded a penalty shot at 3:21, but was turned away by Miller. The Bruins kept the heat on, and David Krejci scored at 7:43 of the first.  But Tyler Myers evened things up 2:31 later, and set up Paul Gaustad later in the period for a 2-1 lead.  Tim Kennedy scored what turned out to be the game winner (went off his skate), and Ryan Miller held off a late charge for the 3-2 win. 

Photo: Bill Wippert
So, the Sabres are 2-0-1 with one more to go in 2010. 

The last match-up was just last week with the Bruins needing the win to keep their playoff hopes alive.  Derek Roy gave Buffalo the early lead on a takeaway, breakaway goal.   Miro Satan flashed backed to the 90s and scored a nifty goal after a giveaway, going backhand five-hole on Patrick Lalime.  The Bruins scored two in the third, a seeing-eye goal by Wideman and a Recchi tip to beat Lalime and the Sabres 3-1.  The Bruins were the more desperate team, and the results showed. 

The final tally in 2010;  Buffalo 2-1-1 vs. Boston. 

What does it mean for this series, I don’t know.  If I did, I would be heading to Vegas.  I do think it gives you a clearer picture of the regular season than the Sabres 2-2-2 overall record against the B’s.

♦  A great deal of the focus will be on Ryan Miller versus Tuukka Rask, and it should be.  They are the top two goaltenders in the league in GAA and save percentage with Rask leading Ryan Miller, but with less games played.  Goals against is the big one in the post season. Ryan Miller has a career playoff record of 20-14 with a 2.4 GAA. Rask has a career record of 0-0.  That’s right, no games played in the post season.  Tim Thomas was the man last year for the Bruins.  Rask is a rookie and hasn’t felt the pressure yet.  Will he be good?  My guess is yes, but I also guess Miller will be better. 

♦  The Sabres have scored just 11 goals against Boston this season, but the expected return of Tim Connolly and an invigorated (that’s what I’m calling his five-goal outburst this past weekend) Thomas Vanek has the trend going upward.  Vanek will have to battle Zdeno Chara by the net all series, which should open up his teammates for more opportunities. 

♦  Let’s hope Jochen Hecht will be able to return for this series against the Bruins.  He tops the list of current Sabres with 14 post-season goals.  He has 31 points over 58 career games.  Tim Connolly has the most impressive numbers with 20 points in 24 games. 

♦  Patrick Kaleta will need to stay on the ice in this series to negate, or at least even up, the hitting of Milan Lucic. 

♦  Thanks for all the comments on the Beard-A-Thon promo.  It was fun and it’s for a great cause.  If you haven’t seen it, it’s here at, on Face book and You tube. 

♦  Game 3 in Boston is on Patriots Day, which means the Boston Marathon is that morning.  I’m thinking of running it as a late entrant.

♦  I expect a raucous crowd Thursday night before the game at the Party in the Plaza and during the game inside the building.  It’s time to bring it.  It’s been three years. 
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