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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Sabres, Friday 1-29

The Bruins (23-20-8) will get back to game action tonight in Buffalo when they take on the division-leading Sabres (31-14-7) at HSBC Arena.

Boston has been mired in a miserable 1-7-1 stretch over their last nine games, now dropping them out of the Eastern Conference’s top eight. One player who has been missed over much of that time is Marc Savard. Savard has missed the team’s last eight games with a knee injury, and will return to the lineup tonight in Buffalo.

Forward Byron Bitz (undisclosed injury) will also be back in action this evening. Forwards Steve Begin (undisclosed) and Marco Sturm (leg) began practicing with the team this past week, but will not be active for tonight’s action. Both should return in the next game or two.

Let’s get a closer look now at tonight’s game notes…

  • Marc Savard has feasted on the Sabres during his career, posting 38 points in 37 career games against Buffalo.
  • Boston has won both games over Buffalo so far this season.
  • The division-leading Sabres are just 2-3-2 in their last seven games, having just notched a shootout victory over New Jersey on Wednesday. In the six games before that rough stretch, the Sabres had a 5-0-1 record in.
  • When talking about the Buffalo Sabres, it all starts with goaltender Ryan Miller. Miller is in the driver’s seat for this season’s Vezina Trophy, currently first in save percentage (.934), second in GAA (2.06), third in shutouts (5), and fourth in the league with 28 wins. His record is 28-11-5 overall. Miller, who will be joining Tim Thomas as Team USA goalies next month, is backed up by veteran Patrick Lalime (3-2-2, 3.11GAA).
  • Buffalo’s scoring leader is center Tim Connolly, who earlier this week had a 16-game points streak snapped. Connolly, who had 25 points during that streak, has 13 goals and 35 assists on the year. Connolly is followed on the stat sheet by winger Jason Pominville (14G, 23A), center Derek Roy (11G, 26A), and Thomas Vanek (15G, 17A).
  • Tonight’s matchup features teams currently ranked in the top six in GAA and penalty kill percentage. Buffalo ranks third in GAA (2.33) and third in PK% (87.1%), with Boston ranking sixth in GAA (2.45) and second in PK% (87.4%).
  • Buffalo is just one of three remaining teams in the NHL to not have blown a lead after 40 minutes. The other two teams are New Jersey and Los Angeles.
  • Lastly, looking at Boston’s playoff positioning, there are just two points that separate sixth place from 13th place in the East. With a win, the Bruins can jump back up into the conference’s top eight playoff bound teams.

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