Bruins Breakdown: Boston vs. Buffalo

The Boston Bruins played the Buffalo Sabres Saturday for the first time this season. Both teams head into the game on a four game winning steak; Buffalo looking to contain the division lead, while Boston tries their best in getting back to the top.

Heading into the game, Thomas Vanek is tied with Jason Pominville for the Sabres lead in points, as both have 19; while young star Tyler Seguin leads the Bruins in points with 17. The goalie matchup will feature a 5-4 Tim Thomas against a 5-5 Ryan Miller.

It’s been a lackluster start for the former USA Olympian goaltender this season, but Miller hopes to improve his 2.74 GAA, and even record, against a red-hot Bruins team that has been surging up the standings.

This week we will perform a decisive line-check, dissecting each of the four forward lines for the Bruins to the tune of how they perform throughout Saturday night’s tout.

The forward lines look like this:

Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton

Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin

Zach Hamill-Chris Kelly-Rich Peverley

Jordan Caron-Greg Campbell-Shawn Thornton

THE GOOD

FIRST PERIOD

The first good shift of the game comes from the Bruins first line, with terrific offensive zone cycling by all three players; but its unfortunately followed by bad defensive zone coverage, with the Boston forwards and defensemen being at fault, as Buffalo scores their first goal of the game.

The goal was scored by Vanek and assisted by Pominville, as both of Sabres leading scorer’s hook-up; it came on a scrappy play from the Buffalo forwards behind Thomas’s net.

Strong rushes and tape-to-tape passing by the Bruins second line leads to some nice chances, with Tyler Seguin ringing iron on a backhand shot in front of the net. The line drew a penalty on the play as well. The young star Seguin continues to impress.

A good job on the penalty kill by all Bruins forwards, Rich Peverley in particular as he works his way back from an injury.

The Bruins second line of Marchand, Bergeron, Seguin continued to play well, drawing their second penalty of the game already with just a minute left in the first period. This line has not slowed down by any means.

SECOND PERIOD

Each Bruins line created some decent chances early on in the second, but nothing yet challenging enough to beat Miller, who had been stout in net for the Sabres to that point.

An absolutely terrific net drive by Peverley leads to the game-tying goal, flying past Buffalo defensemen scoring a beauty as he puts it between the legs of Miller.

The goal was Peverley’s fourth of the season, assisted by Chris Kelly, who is having a great start to the season.

The first line continued to cycle the puck well in the second period, something they do often when they’re playing to the best of their capabilities.

Good read by Marchand, stealing the puck off an errant pass from Tyler Myers, showing tremendous patience as he waits till the last second, before centering the puck to Seguin who buries it easily for his 10th goal of the season.

Another quick strike goal (the Bruins have been making a theme of this) as Nathan Horton scores on a wicked wrist shot beating miller, it came on a 2-1 with Lucic started by a great breakout pass from Johnny Boychuk. The other assist went to captain Zdeno Chara.

THIRD PERIOD

The first line started off the period with a nice rush up ice, good passing from Lucic, something that’s always nice to see. Passing is one aspect of Lucic’s game that definitely needs to improve.

Horrible defense by Buffalo, and a horrendous breakout pass by goalie Jhonas Enroth (replaced Miller to start the third) is intercepted by Peverley, who finds Chris Kelly backdoor for the easy tap in goal, Kelly’s fourth of the year. This time it was Peverley returning the favor to Kelly, recording the lone assist.

Terrific work by the Bruins second line once again, as Seguin scores from Bergeron and Marchand, jumping all over a rebound in front of the net. It was Seguin’s 11th goal of the season, already matching his total from last year.

The Bruins continued their dominant play late in the third period, playing as if the game was tied rather than the actual beat down taking place. Nice to see from a team certainly motivated to get over this much discussed Stanley Cup “hangover”.

A terrific pass from Seguin who finds Marchand open in front of the net extended the lead; the impressive pass was short lived as it was easily topped by a gorgeous goal for Marchand, roofing the puck over Enroth’s shoulder on the backhand. The other helper went to Bergeron.

All three of these players are playing with tremendous confidence right now, and its really starting to show up on the stat sheet.

Finally, do the bruins have four “first” lines right now? They are certainly playing like it.

THE BAD

FIRST PERIOD

Five minutes into first period and not much has developed in terms of offensive play, a slow start by both teams.

Indecisive puck carrying into the offensive zone leads to reduced power play time for the Bruins, something that has to improve if they want to get better on their special teams play.

It wasn’t the best defensive first period for the bruins forwards, their positioning for breakouts was less than stellar, as they must get open in their own zone to make life that much easier for the Bruins defensemen. This is an aspect of fundamental hockey that I expect to get better as the season progresses.

SECOND PERIOD

The Bruins are being a little too unselfish with the puck and have to start shooting more; the cross-ice passes in front of the net have not been connecting thus far.

And wouldn’t you know, once they started shooting more, the pucks started going in. Not much to complain about in terms of overall play this period.

THIRD PERIOD

NOTHING. Complete and total dominance of the Buffalo Sabres by this Bruins squad, who might be playing their best hockey in recent memory.

FINAL NOTE

Scoring 30 goals in five games is an impressive accomplishment in any hockey league, and the Bruins have more than overcome the rough start they had to this season. If the Bruins can continue playing with such a high velocity of momentum, it might be sooner than later that they find themselves near the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

FROM THE ROOM

Ryan Miller with some choice words for Milan Lucic post game:

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Zach Hamill on his second game up with the big club:

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Milan Lucic on the victory over the Sabres:

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Tyler Seguin on his increased production and more:

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Brad Marchand on the victory over the Sabres:

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