The Buffalo Sabres skate into Boston tonight in the first matchup of the season with the division leading Boston Bruins.
While Buffalo hopes to snap a four game losing streak, their opponent has not lost in regulation through six games.
For the Buffalo Sabres to be successful against the Bruins, goalie Ryan Miller has to be better, and more prepared than he was in his last outing against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Winning has been a problem in TD Gardens for the Sabres as well. You would have to go back to the January 20th, 2011 to find the last time that Boston suffered defeat in their home building against the Buffalo Sabres.
Boston has been near perfect so far this season – and in their last ten contests against division rivals are 8-1-1.
Thomas Vanek should have his game legs back under him. One game removed from a muscle injury, he has been the heart and soul of the Buffalo Sabres offense. Against the Bruins, they will need some of his Austrian touch. Vanek has 25 goals and 24 assists in his career against the Bruins, most out of any opponent. This season he has three goals and seven assists for ten points through five games.
While scoring started to come from other sources during the Toronto game, the Sabres will have to continue that trend if they want to find a winning formula this season. Ten of the teams 16 goals have come from Vanek, Cody Hodgson, or Jason Pominville. While the Sabres have nine goal scorers, those three are the only ones on the team with more than one goal. The other six goals have come from guys netting their first of the year, some the first of their career.
For Miller, now is the time to step his game back up and play like the goalie this team needs him to be. This will be Ryan Miller’s first start in TD Gardens in almost a year and a half, the first since the Milan Lucic incident.
Miller on Tuesday told reporters he needed to be better in order for the team to win, in a deference to his normal post game character.
I just didn’t have it, for whatever reason. It was definitely the kind of game I needed to show up for and be better. The guys got me back into it. I tried to hang tight with it and then I had another letdown. Just let them down.
Maturity and true leadership coming from a guy who is normally quick to blame the team in front of him for an off night as opposed to shouldering the blame himself. In a shortened season however, the Buffalo Sabres can ill afford to have that many bad games – and they cannot let the winless streak get to five games, as they already sit in last place in the Northeast Division.
Tonight’s game should be more than interesting – while the Lucic hit should be old news – Miller returned to go 2-0 against the Bruins last year at home – Miller did have a less than amicable exchange with Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs during the lockout. We shall see if ownership allegiance shows through, or if the players are 100 percent behind Miller in how he handled the situation.