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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Sabres, Game 5

I know I am only here to preview the Bruins-Sabres Game 5 tonight, but before I begin, I’ve got to say that in the history of the collective Boston sports world, has there ever been as big a night as tonight is shaping up to be? I mean sure, any time the Pats are in the Super Bowl, there’s more anticipation and excitement than there is for tonight, but tonight is more unique and more widespread than really any other night I can ever imagine. Think about it… when have the four major sports in this town ever collided head-to-head like they will this evening? Sure, a boring Sox-Orioles game is one thing, but we have two of our local teams involved in playoff games, and we’ve got night two of the NFL draft on our sports menu this evening. Really, as a fan of all four Boston sports, does it get any better than this???

With that being said, let me refocus on the task at hand, which is to preview the possible series-clinching game in Buffalo between the Bruins and Sabres. After a truly thrilling Game 4 that saw Boston earn their first multi-overtime playoff win in over 70 years, the B’s have pushed the higher-seeded Sabres to the brink of elimination, with Buffalo now needing to reel off three wins in a row to move on.

The Bruins know full well however, how teams can come back from 3-1 deficits to at least make a series interesting. Two years ago, it was Boston who found themselves down 3-1 in their opening round series with Montreal. The B’s forged ahead, winning both Games 5 and 6, to force a deciding Game 7, a game that Montreal took 2-0. Last season, the B’s fell behind 3-1 in the series with Carolina, only to battle back again and force a Game 7. We all unfortunately know how that ended…

So until that fourth win is won, Boston can’t look ahead beyond tonight. Win tonight, that’s the only focus.

Let’s now jump into a few game notes to get you ready for the Bruins-Sabres skate this evening… and get those remotes juiced up for a night of ultimate channel-flipping…

  • Boston is 17-1 in series when leading 3-1. Let’s hope for an 18th victory in Game 5. 
  • The Bruins have led for less than 20 minutes of this series, yet they enjoy a 3-1 series advantage. Pretty amazing… 
  • After going 30-0-0 in the regular season when taking a lead into the third period, Buffalo is now 1-2 in this series, having blown third period leads in Games 2 and 4, highlighted by Wednesday’s collapse, blowing a two-goal advantage. 
  • On the injury front, Buffalo’s leading scorer Thomas Vanek will again be sidelined with a lower-body injury. He has skated with the team, but hasn’t shown enough improvement to warrant him rejoining the action. Also, head coach Lindy Ruff has decided to make a swap along his forward lines, making veteran Raffi Torres a healthy scratch for tonight, in favor of former Boston College Eagle, Nathan Gerbe. Torres, since coming to Buffalo at the trade deadline, posted zero goals in his 14 games with his new team, while Gerbe had two goals and three assists in 10 games with the Sabres this season. 
  • For your daily Marc Savard update, the center travelled with the team and skated with his teammates this morning. Savard has been on the ice now all week, and has been medically cleared for contact. If Boston can put away the Sabres, look for Savard to rejoin the lineup in Round Two, likely against Matt Cooke and the Pittsburgh Penguins. 
  • Lastly, elsewhere in the Eastern Conference, the Flyers surprisingly became the first team to advance to the second round last night, shutting out the Devils 3-0 in a Game 5 victory that sent the Devils into off-season mode. Boston and Washington can join Philadelphia with wins this evening. Ottawa avoided elimination last night, winning in triple OT over Pittsburgh, to force a Game 6 Saturday. Ottawa still trails the Pens, 3-2 in the series.

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