Off to Buffalo: First Back-to-Back on Tap
WILMINGTON, MA - With a slower month of October, the Bruins are one of only three teams to have played just seven games.
At 5-2-0 on the season, the schedule doesn't necessarily pick up quite yet, but the Bruins are set to face their first back-to-back of the season this week. And it comes against two opponents currently at opposite sides of the spectrum.
The Buffalo Sabres, the B's opponent on the road Wednesday night, currently sit at 1-8-0 on the season, which equates to their worst 10-game start in franchise history. With 13 "goals for," they have scored more than two goals only once this season, coming in a 4-3 shootout win over the New York Islanders, their own W to date.
While the personnel and coaching has had significant turnover since the start to 2012-13, the Sabres did hand the B's their first regulation loss of last season, 7-4, thanks to an always-hot-against-Boston Tomas Vanek and his hat trick.
The message? Don't underestimate them.
"I think our guys understand the situation, so it shouldn’t be [tough to get up for]. If anything you want to build on the last game and to be able to do that you have to play the same way," said Head Coach Claude Julien, following the Bruin's Tuesday morning practice before jetting to Buffalo.
Boston is coming off of their two-game, four-point swing through Florida and a 5-0 shutout of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, in which a full-60, team effort saw 12 different players notch a point.
The Black & Gold are the only Eastern Conference team to not have a loss yet on the road, with a 3-0-0 record.
"So I think it’s an important game for us - and if we do play well like we did the game before then we have some momentum going into the game against San Jose."
Buffalo hasn't had an ideal start to the campaign, as witnessed by former Buffalo Sabre Daniel Paille. The winger was drafted by Buffalo 20th overall in 2002, suiting up for them from 2005-10, before being traded to Boston.
"It’s definitely in a bit of a rough patch right now. There’s a lot of good people in Buffalo and they definitely deserve more," said Paille.
"I haven’t actually watched a lot of games so I don’t know – I’m assuming the guys over there are still putting in effort out there – especially against us, they’re going to be wanting to play hard especially with the situation that they’re in right now."
"And for us, we have to be able to know that we need to keep our attack on and not stop."
The strongest emphasis for Julien and his team is on not allowing themselves to get complacent.
"We’re coming back the next night to play a team that’s undefeated on a back-to-back. We know that they’re already here so you have to try and earn those points when you feel you can," said the bench boss.
San Jose came to Boston after their 1-0 shootout win over Detroit on Monday to remain undefeated in regulation, keeping their streak of 8-0-1 in tact. The first place team has scored a league-high 40 goals, with Patrick Marleau and rookie Tomas Hertl at seven goals apiece.
Still, the Bruins' focus has to first center around stopping the Sabres and what's likely to be Ryan Miller between the pipes.
"I think Buffalo is a game that we can’t let get away from us. We have to come out hard. In this league, the thing that’s most dangerous is when you take things for granted and we can’t," said Julien.
"This is a team that is very capable of scoring goals when you look at some of the guys that they have. They’re also a team that has a good goaltender. If he’s on his game – and we know the case for us when we ran into hot goaltenders – I think all the reasons to be good and ready is there for us."
Last Time Around: Back-to-Backs
Last season, the Bruins played in 16 sets of back-to-back matchups, with a combined record of 8-7-1 in those games. In game one’s of back-to-back sets, the Bruins compiled a 5-2-1 record, while recording a 3-5-0 record in game two’s of the back-to-backs.
The Bruins ran through a roughly hour-long session working line rushes, positioning, special teams and battling to get them ready for Wednesday night on the road against Buffalo.
As expected, the lineup with status quo with all Bruins on the ice. Reilly Smith remained on Patrice Bergeron's line with Loui Eriksson. Brad Marchand was sporting the grey jersey, taking first rushes on the right wing, with Chris Kelly at center and Carl Soderberg on the left. The trio, along with Jordan Caron, alternated positions. The seven defensemen rotated with each other throughout the practice.White: Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla
Gold: Reilly Smith-Patrice Bergeron-Loui Eriksson
Grey: Carl Soderberg-Chris Kelly-Brad Marchand, Jordan Caron
Merlot: Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
D: Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Dennis Seidenberg, Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid
G: Tuukka Rask, Chad Johnson