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The Bruins (6-2-0) get back to action Wednesday, heading to HSBC Arena in upstate New York to take on division rivals, the Buffalo Sabres (3-7-2).
Buffalo is a mess right now, plain and simple. They return home Wednesday after a 1-2-1 road trip, which wrapped up Saturday with a 4-0 whooping in Dallas. Only the New Jersey Devils (7) have less points than the Sabres (8) have (Florida and Edmonton also have eight, but with less games played).
Speaking of less games played, no one has played less games than the eight the Bruins have skated through so far this season. But with a red hot Tim Thomas in goal, they are off to one of their best starts in recent memory. Thomas, who is the likely starter Wednesday, is 6-0-0, making him the first Bruins goaltender since Tiny Thompson in the late 1930’s, to win his first six starts of the regular season. Thomas leads the league with his .984 save percentage, his 0.50 goals against average, and his three shutouts, including back-to-back goose eggs against Toronto and Ottawa. His incredible start earned him the NHL’s Second Star for the month of October (behind Tampa’s Steven Stamkos), and this past week, he earned the league’s First Star.
But enough about Thomas… let’s look at this matchup in a broader light. Now, some more pregame notes to get you ready for Wednesday’s tilt in Buffalo…
– Boston won four of the six matchups against Buffalo during the regular season last year, and then pulled the playoff upset, ousting the Sabres in the first round as the sixth seed.
– Buffalo is still looking for their first win at HSBC Arena this season… so far, they are a dismal 0-4-1 at home. On the contrary, taking away the split “home-and-home” series in Prague to open the year, the B’s are unbeaten on the road, winning their first three true road games.
– While Boston’s goaltending is off to an unbelievable start, Buffalo’s netminders definitely are not. Ryan Miller (3-5-2, 2.71GAA), the golden boy of last year’s U.S. Olympic team, has struggled, and is now hurt and will be out of action Wednesday as he nurses a lower body injury. His backup, Patrick Lalime (0-2-0, 4.03GAA) will get the start Wednesday, while recent call-up Jonas Enroth will be second in command.
– The injuries don’t stop there for the Sabres, as they’ll be without former Boston College standout Nathan Gerbe for the next few weeks. Gerbe’s face got in the way of a Tyler Myers slapshot in Friday’s game, breaking Gerbe’s jaw. Ouch. However, the team will get Jason Pominville back on the ice Wednesday, with doctors clearing him to return to action, having missed the team’s last nine games recovering from an early season concussion.
– Buffalo’s scoring is led by center Derek Roy, the only bright spot for the Sabres thus far. Roy has a half dozen goals and seven assists through the team’s first 12 games. Beyond Roy, five other Sabres are tied for second in points on the team, with seven each.
– Veteran Sabre Mike Grier will play in his 1,000th NHL game Wednesday. He will be the 254th player to reach that mark.