The Buffalo Sabres will take on the Boston Bruins for the second straight game, this time on the road in Boston. Their last meeting ended with Boston taking the win in Buffalo 3-0 on Friday night, giving goaltender Jaroslav Halak another shutout.
The Sabres are 17-15-7 this season, sitting in sixth place in the Atlantic Division. Despite a hot start to the year, they have slipped down the standings and have been unable to re-light that fire.
Buffalo is just 1-4 over its last five games. A significant difference between the start of the season and now has been its goaltending. Both Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark started the season on fire, but they have crashed down to 11-9-3 and 6-6-4 records, respectively. The Sabres need one, if not both of these guys to step up in net if they plan on competing with the rest of the Atlantic this season.
The Sabres are led by their young star Jack Eichel. The 23-year-old center has 24 goals and 27 assists this season for a total of 51 points. The Bruins were able to keep Eichel in check in their last meeting, and he will look to get on the board Sunday night in Boston.
Buffalo is averaging 2.92 goals per game while allowing 3.10. The Sabres do have weapons on offense, but their lack of ability between the pipes has led to their recent struggles. Boston is not a team you want to be facing back-to-back with inconsistency on defense, but the Sabres will have to regroup and put together a better game plan for this matchup.
Sitting On Top
The Bruins also started their season off hot, putting them at the top of the power rankings list and standings for most of the first two months of the season. They have slowed down since their hot start as well but still sit at 22-7-9 on top of the Atlantic Division.
The Bruins are once again led by their top line of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Patrice Bergeron. Pastrnak is the NHL’s leading goal scorer with 28, while Marchand leads the team with 38 assists and 57 total points. The one to look out for lately has been Bergeron, who has seven goals over the last five games.
After coming off a rough losing streak, the Bruins have bounced back and won their last two games over the Capitals and Sabres. The team was sliding for a streak in the wrong direction when they were able to get a big 7-3 victory over the Capitols that pushed them back into the winning column.
While Boston has little concern on its offense, its defense is beaten up right now, and they will be forced to shuffle some players around. Both Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy are on Boston’s injured list and contribute in a big way not only on defense but in setting up their offense as well.
After Halak’s shutout in their last game, it will be Tuukka Rask who gets his shot at Buffalo between the pipes in this one. Rask has a 14-4-5 record this season and has been almost unstoppable at home. The Sabres are coming off a shutout loss only to face a great goaltender in a tough road matchup.
What To Expect
Boston is favored at home in this one, and after just shutting the Sabres down in their last game, I see no reason why this game will be different. While Boston has some concern with injuries on defense, I don’t see it being enough to get Buffalo the win. I like Boston by two goals in this one.