November 12, 2011

B’s will have hands full with Sabres’ dynamic offense, elite goaltending

By Jesse Connolly

BOSTON – The Bruins have been lucky enough to catch a number of opponents in the second half of back-to-back games this season, but banking on that slowing down the Sabres on Saturday would be ill-advised.

Buffalo spanked the Senators 5-1 on Friday, earning their fourth-straight victory as they enter tonight’s tilt against the Black and Gold on just as good of a roll as the home team.

“So early in the season, I don’t think fatigue comes into play very often,” Bruins center Chris Kelly said of the Sabres’ schedule. “We know what to expect. They’re playing well and we’re going to have to come out with our best effort tonight.”

In order to have success, the B’s are going to have to solve Ryan Miller. Buffalo’s long-tenured goaltender enters the game with a 20-5-7 career record against Boston.

“Obviously he’s an elite goalie,” said Kelly. “There’s no question. He’s been an elite goalie for a long, long time. The more shots you can get at someone like that and the more traffic, the better your odds are of scoring.”

Scoring certainly hasn’t been a problem for the Bruins of late. They’ve tallied 24 times in the last four contests (all victories), more than the 22 they racked up over the first ten games of the season.

However, Buffalo has been nearly as good at finding the back of the net. Renown for their up-tempo style of play under coach Lindy Ruff, Buffalo is off to a hot start at 10-5-0, powered by an offense that ranks fifth in the NHL at 3.07 goals per game.

“They’re a hard working team,” B’s winger Shawn Thornton said. “I’ve played against them enough in the past four or five years and they’ve had the same coach, so I’m assuming they have the same system. They play hard, they’re strong on pucks, they’re very opportunistic offensively and they’re good along the walls.

“We’re going to have to bring another good game if we want to keep climbing. We’re going to have to bring everything to continue to climb up.”