Vanek and Marchand

Get your game notes: Bruins at Sabres

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The Sabres could use a much better effort tonight against the visiting Bruins. The game can be seen live on NBCSN (TSN2 in Canada) starting at 8 p.m. ET.

Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• The Sabres are winless in their six home games this season (0-5-1), having been outscored by a combined 17-6 margin. The last time they suffered through such a streak at the First Niagara Center was Oct. 9-Nov. 5, 2010, when they went seven straight without a win (0-6-1). In 2013-14, the Bruins have won all three of their road games by a combined 11-3.

• The Sabres have been outscored 14-3 in first periods this season – one of the many reasons they have held a lead in only one of their 10 games. (During their 3-2 OT loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Oct. 8, they held leads of 1-0 and 2-1). The Sabres have played 606:50 this season and held a lead for a grand total of 9:35.

• Since the beginning of the 2010-11 season, the Boston Bruins have won 128 regular-season games (4th-most in the NHL), while the Buffalo Sabres have won only 104 (T-20th-most). However, the Sabres have the slight edge in head-to-head matchups during that span, winning nine (9-5-3 record, 21 points) to the Bruins’ eight (8-5-4, 20 points).

Of the six 400-goal scorers to have played in the NHL this season, only the Bruins’ Jarome Iginla (530 career goals) has yet to score in 2013-14.

Career goals 2013-14

1. Jaromir Jagr (NJ) 683 2
2. Teemu Selanne (ANA) 678 3
3. Iginla (BOS) 530 0
4. Marian Hossa (CHI) 437 3
5. Daniel Alfredsson (DET) 427 1
6. Patrick Marleau (SJ) 411 7

Tonight is Iginla’s 8th game; his only longer drought to start a season was in 1999-2000, when he went without a goal in his first 11 games as a member of the Calgary Flames.

• Neither the Bruins nor the Sabres have a player among the NHL’s top-50 in points this season. Of all the skaters, only Sabres forward Cody Hodgson has more than six points (2 goals, five assists = 7 points)

• Boston coach Claude Julien hinted after Monday’s practice that backup goaltender Chad Johnson will make his Bruins debut in the net tonight. That would mean that the Bruins will have started the backup in each of their last five meetings with the Sabres. After starting netminder Tuukka Rask (career: 4-5-1, 2.51 vs. BUF) surrendered a career-high six goals to Buffalo in a 7-4 loss on Jan. 31 in Boston, Anton Khudobin (now of the Carolina Hurricanes) started the following four games last season.

Rivalry Night on NBCSN: Bruins aim to increase Sabres’ suffering

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 19: David Krejci #46, Jarome Iginla #12, and Milan Lucic #17 of the Boston Bruins are congratulated by teammates after a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on October 19, 2013 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
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Throughout the season, NBCSN will feature the NHL’s fiercest rivalries on Wednesday nights. Tonight the Boston Bruins will head to the First Niagara Center to take on the Buffalo Sabres at 8:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

Buffalo is one of just three clubs with only one win this season, along with the Philadelphia Flyers and the New Jersey Devils. If you’re fishing for some kind of silver lining for the Sabres, it’s that they at least didn’t enter the season amid high expectations and they still have their 2014 first round draft pick.

Those are the kinds of “well it could be worse” stories that seem appropriate lately. Buffalo’s 1-8-1 record is bad enough, but its offense outside of Cody Hodgson and Thomas Vanek has bordered on non-existent. This is a team that gets better as games progress, but only because they’ve set the bar so low with just a single first period goal so far this season.

Related: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $1,500 Fantasy Hockey league that includes Wednesday and Thursday’s NHL games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $400. Starts Wednesday at 7:30pm ET. Here’s the link.

It’s still early, but rather than that being an indication that there’s plenty of time to stage a comeback, it might just be a reminder that Sabres fans have a long road ahead of them. But at the same time beaten down teams can be dangerous, especially when they’re playing against old foes.

After finishing just shy of the Stanley Cup in 2013, the Boston Bruins have gotten off to a great start. Goaltender Tuukka Rask is excelling, even by his high standards and the Bruins attack has been balanced. They can’t afford to let up though; not with the Atlantic Division looking better than expected.

The Detroit Red Wings have adapted well to the Eastern Conference and the Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t been deterred by their Game 7 collapse in the first round of the 2013 playoffs. Meanwhile, the Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, and Tampa Bay Lightning haven’t been quite as good so far, but each team certainly has enough talent to be a threat. With that in mind, banking points now against struggling teams would make life far easier for the Bruins come March and April.

So Boston will look to add to Buffalo’s pain while the Sabres would just like to give themselves and their fans some indication there’s still reason to be hopeful about the 2013-14 campaign.

Bruins chase red-hot Bishop, blast Bolts 5-0

Krejci-Bishop
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Coming into Saturday night, Ben Bishop was one of the NHL’s hottest netminders.

By evening’s end, he was anything but.

Bishop, the Tampa Bay starter, was chased from the net after allowing four goals on 17 shots in a 5-0 loss to the Bruins.

Boston dominated the contest from start to finish, getting goals from five different skaters — David Krejci, Adam McQuaid, Patrice Bergeron, Chris Kelly and Shawn Thornton — while Tuukka Rask stopped all shots faced for his first shutout of the season.

The Bruins dominated Tampa with one of their most balanced attacks in recent memory. In addition to the five separate scorers, Boston had 12 different players notch at least one point on Saturday.

As for Bishop, it was a night to forget.

The league’s tallest netminder came into the B’s game on fire, boasting a 5-0-0 record with a .943 save percentage and 1.57 GAA. He’d also wrestled away Tampa Bay’s No. 1 gig from Anders Lindback, who came on in relief late in the second period, allowing one goal.

 

Bruins’ Soderberg cleared to play

Washington Capitals v Boston Bruins
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Carl Soderberg could make his season debut for the Boston Bruins on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Soderberg has been cleared to play, after missing every game in the regular season to date due to an ankle injury suffered in the pre-season finale.

“Carl is ready to go,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said Friday, as per the club’s website. “He’s been cleared so there’s a possibility there.

“I know it’s kind of a question if we feel that he’s going to be in tomorrow; there’s a good chance he will be. He’s been cleared so now it’s up to me to make that decision.”

Originally a St. Louis second-round draft pick in 2004, Soderberg played in a total of eight games last season for the Bruins, including a pair of appearances in the Stanley Cup Final.

Video: Panthers give up late goal as Tim Thomas faces former Bruins teammates

Boston Bruins v Florida Panthers
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Tim Thomas’ first game against his old teammates from Boston didn’t go the way the veteran goaltender may have hoped.

Thomas and the Panthers conceded the Bruins’ winning goal with 59 seconds remaining in regulation, in a 3-2 loss on home ice.

Thomas, 39, got the start against his former team, which he backstopped to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011 against the Vancouver Canucks.

Reilly Smith scored the winning goal, as his backhander on a scramble in front of Thomas just trickled by the netminder and into the net.

Thomas, whose animated responses to goals against has been well-documented in the past, emphatically threw up his arms in frustration as he sat on his knees in the crease.