Boston Bruins vs. Buffalo Sabres Game Preview

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The physicality and drama between a Northeast Division rivalry could be renewed tonight as the Boston Bruins welcome the Buffalo Sabres to town at 7 p.m. on NESN.

The rivalry turned superheated last season after the incident between Milan Lucic and Ryan Miller on Nov. 12, 2011. The pot then kept boiling in subsequent games with the addition of things like Brad Marchand saying Buffalo was his least favorite city to play in, but the Bruins did end up taking the series 4-2. (Let’s just not mention how awful that one game on Feb. 8 was, okay?)

Buffalo toughened up a bit over the summer by adding new players like John Scott, perhaps to try to keep up with the physicality of many players on the Bruins’ lineup. This will be the first look at if that worked out for them.

At morning skate, Tuukka Rask left the ice first, so expect to see number 40 between the pipes tonight. In his career versus Buffalo, he’s played 11 games, but started in 10, with a 4-4-1 record and a 2.36 goals-against average. Right now, though, Buffalo is allowing 3.17 goals a game, whereas Boston allows an even 2.00.

Some other players who have been strong and productive against the Sabres include Nathan Horton (eight goals and 14 assists), Patrice Bergeron (seven goals, 17 assists) and Tyler Seguin (six goals, four assists). Though it is Seguin’s birthday, he has one heartfelt birthday wish: that no one throws any more gross half-eaten hot dogs onto the ice like they did during his shootout attempt. That should be an easy enough wish to grant.

Chris Bourque will be a healthy scratch, necessitating some lineup shifts: Daniel Paille will leave his Merlot Line comrades tonight to join the third line while Lane MacDermid is slotted into the fourth line.

Coach Claude Julien said that this is to prevent healthy scratches like MacDermid from basically sitting in the garage too long rusting away, but I can’t help but wonder if he figures this game is going to get physical, so he might as well put in a guy known for his ability to get in a fight. MacDermid, after all, fought in his very first NHL game last season. Apparently, he’s so much like his father Paul that Jack Edwards announced on his Twitter that the elder MacDermid would be suiting up tonight. Whoops!

Julien also said that Bourque has been putting too much pressure on himself, so this scratch may cool him down and make him more efficient in the future. I imagine he probably has been hard on himself, considering who he is, who his dad is, where he is playing, his fairly small body of NHL experience and such. We’ll see when he will rejoin the lineup.

Look for this game to be exciting, high-tempo and, yes, physical.

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