Buffalo Sabres vs Boston Bruins April 17th 2013

Boston Bruins Dennis Seidenberg

Boston Bruins Dennis Seidenberg by Dan4th

Tonight, the city of Boston will make an attempt to return to some normalcy following the horrific events that occurred just two days ago. On Monday evening, the Bruins had been scheduled to meet the Ottawa Senators as part of an all day celebration of sports and America during “Patriots Day”. Unbelievably, disaster struck the city in the form of a terrorist attack during the Boston Marathon that changed everything, not only for that day but forever. The game against the Senators was of course postponed. Yet the city of Boston is strong and life goes on even in the face of evil.

After what is surely to be an emotional pre-game ceremony, the first puck will drop at TD Garden at 7:30ET when the Bruins return to the ice to face the Buffalo Sabres. The game will be televised nationally on the NBC Sports Network.

Buffalo (18-19-6, 42 points) still has postseason aspirations and a win tonight is critical if they expect to jump from 10th to at least the 8th and final playoff spot. Currently they are behind both Winnipeg and the New York Rangers by 4 points with 5 games to play. Both Philadelphia and New Jersey are nipping at their heels trailing the Sabres by  just 1 and 2 points respectively.

The Sabres come in to this one after 2 wins in a row against the aforementioned Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning. They have also gone 5-2 in their last 7. It will be interesting to see if Buffalo sticks with backup goalie Jhonas Enroth after he logged the last 2 wins including a shutout versus Philly. Usually stalwart net minder, Ryan Miller was pulled from a game last Thursday after allowing 4 goals on 32 shots in 2 periods. Miller has not exhibited the exceptional form Sabre fans are used to seeing this season. Overall, he is 14-17-5 with a 2.84 goals against average and .913 save percentage. He has performed somewhat better in the 4 games played against Boston going 2-2, 2.53 GAA and .930%. Enroth has not yet faced the Bruins with his season stats being 4-2-2, 2.40 GAA and .924% saves. Left Wing Thomas Vanek had a huge game the last time these 2 teams met in Boston scoring 3 goals with 2 assists in a 7-4 Sabres victory on January 31.

Boston (26-11-4, 56 points) can leap from their current 4 seeding to 2nd with a win tonight coupled with a loss by Montreal in Pittsburgh. The Canadiens lead the Bruins by just 1 point for the Northeast Division lead and ultimately that second playoff spot. Boston does have a game in hand entering tonight’s action. Toronto trails the Bruins by 3 points but have played 2 more games.

Boston had been struggling a little bit on the ice even before the devastating distractions entered the picture. They have lost their last 2. In their last game played Saturday they fell to a Carolina Hurricane team that had previously lost 7 straight. Boston goalie Tuukka Rask has performed well all season. He is 17-8-4 with 3 shutouts to his credit along with an excellent 1.99 GAA and save percentage of .929. The Bruins leading scorer, Brad Marchand is expected to miss this one with ongoing concussion symptoms.

Even without Marchand in the lineup I don’t see the Sabres overcoming not only a better hockey team on the ice, but the overwhelming spirit that will emit from the Bruins faithful in the stands who are emotionally charged under any circumstances let alone those brought on by the events of Monday. How can you bet against Boston in this one. I like the Bruins 4-2.

Free NHL Pick: Boston Bruins

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