By: Drew Johnson | Follow Me On Twitter: @doobshmoob
The Boston Bruins will play host to the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday at 5:00pm ET. The Bruins took the first meeting between the two teams this season by a score of 4-0 in Buffalo.
The Sabres, however, find themselves ahead of Boston in the Atlantic Division standings. They currently have the third-place spot in their grasps while the Bruins are holding on to the second wild-card position. With a 19-9-5 record, the Sabres are by far the biggest surprise of the 2018-19 season thus far.
David Krejci has a five-game point streak going, scoring three goals and five assists during that time – all at even streak. All season Krejci has been solid when it comes to producing scoring chances. More recently, however, he has capitalized on those chances and helped his team execute. It is no coincidence that this uptick in production has occurred while playing on the first line alongside David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. Even with that asterisk, Krejci has been a great playmaker throughout the season and is sure to give the Sabres a headache on Sunday.
Tuukka Rask has been the hotter goaltender in recent weeks and will likely get the start against the Sabres on Sunday. The netminder is 4-2-0 in his last six starts, making 166 saves on 148 shots during that span. Rask is 13-6-1 throughout his career against Buffalo with a 2.10 GAA and .932 SV% during those games.
Jack Eichel is simply dominating right now. He has 12 goals and 29 assists in 33 games this season, leading all Sabres in production. Like Krejci, Eichel is on a five-game point streak with seven goals and two assists during that stretch. The Massachusetts native has been average against Boston in the past, notching three goals and four assists in 11 games with a minus-9 rating. However, that was with a below average Buffalo team. With the new and improved Sabres, Eichel will be the most dangerous player in a white jersey on Sunday.
Depth, depth, depth. It’s like a broken record at this point, but secondary scoring has been an issue for the Bruins all season long. They finally have a third line in Ryan Donato, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, and Danton Heinen that is clicking. Still, the results on the scoreboard haven’t been consistent from the bottom three lines. It’s a big reason why the Bruins are currently fifth in the Atlantic Division, and something needs to change – especially if they expect to defeat teams like the Sabres as the season moves along.
Carter Hutton has slowed down a bit since going on an eight-game winning streak for Buffalo. He is 1-2-1 in his last four games, giving up 11 goals in that span. Hutton did play Saturday night against the Washington Capitals, so it is questionable as to whether or not they will give him the start against the Bruins on Sunday. Buffalo may feel obligated to go with Linus Ullmark who is 6-1-3 this season.
Bruins vs. Sabres Outlook
The Bruins are coming off a tough loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins and will be looking to turn things around. The Krejci, Pastrnak, Marchand combination has been lethal as of late and the B’s will look to them to carry the offense once more – that is unless the team’s secondary scoring issue is solved with no notice.
The Sabres have been on a bit of a skid, going 2-3-3 in their last eight games. They will be looking to change their fate against the Bruins on Sunday. This will be the second leg of back-to-back nights of hockey for Buffalo so we will see if that plays a role in their readiness to take on the B’s at TD Garden.