Good morning from a snow-free Buffalo, where the Bruins try to follow up Sunday's impressive win in D.C. with a win here tonight against the slumping Sabres.
The Bruins (5-5-1) haven't been sharp of late, but they looked back on register with their 4-1 win over the Caps. Coach Claude Julien moved Chris Kelly up to the first line to pivot Milan Lucic and Rich Peverley. No. 1 centerman David Krejci shifted down to third-line duty with Quebec kids Benoit Pouliot and Jordan Caron.
Look for Tuukka Rask in net tonight, after Tim Thomas made back-to-back starts against the Penguins (L) and Caps (W). The Thin Finn is 0-2-1 in his last three starts and is without a victory since Jan. 16 (Florida).
Update: In rare day-of-game admission, Julien discloses that Rask will get the start.
The Sabres will have ex-defenseman James Patrick calling the shots behind their bench. Long-time coach Lindy Ruff cracked three ribs in Monday's practice in a freak on-ice collision with Jordan Leopold and needed to spend Tuesday resting at home.
Update: Ruff, according to Patrick, will watch the game from inside the arena or from the club's offices here inside First Niagara Center.
With a win here, the Bruins can move within one point of the Rangers for the lead in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres will enter the night with only one point separating themselves and the cellar-dwelling Canes.
Puck drop: 7:35 p.m. EST
Record: Bruins, 33-16-2; Sabres, 22-24-6.
TV/radio info: NBC cable (formerly Versus), 98.5 The Sports Hub (Dave Goucher, Bob Beers)
Projected lineup:Milan Lucic-Chris Kelly-Rich Peverley
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot-David Krejcik-Jordan Caron
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg-Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid
Healthy scratches: Steve Kampfer
Injured: Nathan Horton (concussion).
Storylines: We'll see if there is any residual bad blood between the clubs from the Nov. 12 visit to the Garden by Buffalo in which Lucic collided with Sabres netminder Ryan Miller. Nearly three months later, the Sabres really haven't recovered from that Lucic-induced spin-o-rama ... Krejci needs to pick up his game. He has gone without a point in three straight games for the first time since the start of December. It will be all the harder for him to rekindle his offensive touch as long as he rides with third-line wingers Caron and Pouliot ... Team captain Zdeno Chara was given the day off on Tuesday, but he is expected back for a minimum 25:00 of TOI this evening ... Four Boston forwards scored all the goals in D.C, including Peverley, Marchand, Seguin, and Lucic. In their three previous games, Bruins defensemen had outscored forwards, 3-2 ... Also, 23 of Boston's 30 shots on Sunday came from forwards. Too much of their game recently was backloaded on offense ...The Sabres and Islanders are tied for the fewest goals (126) in the East. Only Columbus (122) and Minnesota (123) have scored fewer times this season.