The big question for the Boston Bruins coming into tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres was if the Bruins would be able to pick up right where they left off before the Olympic break. Boston had gone 7-1-2 in their last 10 games and held a comfortable seven-point lead in the Atlantic Division pre-break, but such a large gap between games can easily have an effect on a team.
Even though the Bruins eventually lost to the Sabres 4-5 in overtime, there were some bright spots for Boston. By far and away, one of the best Bruins on the ice was the recently returned Chris Kelly. Kelly, whose natural position is center, has recently seen time on the left wing due to the success of linemate Carl Soderberg in his absence. If there was any question about whether or not he should stay on the wing, tonight erased those doubts. Kelly’s return has also provided a much needed boost to the Bruins’ penalty kill. He had two beautiful short-handed breakaways in the second period that exemplified his skill.
As a team, the Bruins played flat out of the gate, as they worked to shake off the rust from a long break. It was nearly halfway through the first period before Boston was able to register a shot on goal, but by the end of the second period, all their lines were firing on all cylinders. Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic have consistently scored big goals when needed throughout the year, and tonight was no different.
It wasn’t the outcome that Boston was hoping for, especially in a rivalry game against the worst team in the league, but the Bruins can’t focus on it. Instead, they will have to shake it off and get ready for the next game.