Sabres, Miller Skate Into Lion’s Den


November 12, 2011. Boston, Massachusetts. Feels like an eternity ago. We all know what happened, as it’s been discussed and dissected ad nauseum. It’s hard to believe that tonight will be the first time the Buffalo Sabres – and, yes, Ryan Mi-llerrrrr (the chant of choice lately, it seems) – will be back in Boston to face the Bruins since Lucic-gate.

This will also be the first time the Sabres play the Bruins without Paul Gaustad.

Since that 6-2 beatdown (on so many levels) at the hands of their Northeast Division rivals, the Sabres have shown some life against Boston. A 4-3 shootout loss two weeks later, in Buffalo, was quite possibly the game of the year, even in a loss. In early February, the Sabres put a 6-0 hurtin’ on the B’s, in a fight-filled affair. Two weeks ago, the Sabres squeaked out a 2-1 shootout victory over these same Bruins.

Unfortunately for Buffalo, who are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games, and who’s main focus has got to be getting out of Beantown with 2 points, the sub-plot of “Miller/Lucic” will no doubt dominate tonight’s game.

Good thing it’s not televised on the NBC Sports Network, with Doc “Game? What game?” Emrick, Gord “Winnipeg love-fest” Miller, and their know-it-all sidekick, Pierre “I’m so cool ‘cuz I can pronounce ‘Ornskoldsvik'” McGuire calling the game, or we may never have heard a lick of any type of play-by-play at all.

Boston’s finest will no doubt be all over Miller, who is likely to start his 10th straight, which will only serve as a catalyst for some on-ice shenanigans from the likes of Boston’s 22-goal agitator-extraordinaire, Brad Marchand, 6’4″ behemoth Adam McQuaid, and my nominee for the “Chris Neil Borderline Dirty” Award, the cement-headed Shawn Thornton. The Sabres, especially without the 6’5″ Gaustad, don’t have the individual toughness to withstand the mono-y-mono altercations that the Bruins players would – and have – gladly accepted, finished and asked for seconds. However, Buffalo can – and need to – show the up-tempo, heavy-forechecking, never-quit intensity that has been on display since the All-Star break if they want to fly to Ottawa (where they’ll face the Senators on Saturday night) with another victory in their back pocket. The Sabres need to finish their checks, yet stay out of the penalty box, unless they’re dragging a Bruins player with them, and pound as much rubber as they can towards the Bruins’ net.

Skate, Hit, Shoot. Play simple, intense, mistake-free hockey. Seems simple enough.

Now, go beat the Bruins!

UPDATE 6:30pm: Jhonas Enroth led the team onto the ice for warmups. Miller will backup “The Prince” tonight.

Don’t forget about the OptionIt contest. All you have to do is register for free, indicate the Sabres as your favorite team, and you are entered to win tickets to the Sabres/Maple Leafs game on April 3rd.

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