Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bruins vs. Sabres: Stuff to Look Out For

[Edit: Those following Oiler-Blogger-Gate might want to check out this interview with Oilers PR man J.J. Hebert in the Edmonton Journal. I am stunned at this man's inability to understand the difference between print media and the blogosphere. Want to know why the NHL lags behind other pro leagues in media relations? THIS is why. It reminds me a lot of the RIAA's misguided and costly persecution of online music sharers... a mistake which set them back a decade. Take heed, sports management professionals! Fans will turn on you much more quickly than you think.]

Inevitably, the Bruins and Sabres will end up shooting it out for a playoff spot this season. They finished only 2 points apart last season, and neither team has changed dramatically since May. So every time they match up, it's like a little play-in game.

- This is Versus' game of the night, so expect an audience of hundreds if not thousands.
- But seriously though, Versus has incrementally improved their hockey coverage. Like the growth of a tumor, you don't really notice it until you consider the state of things only a couple of years ago.

- Manny Fernandez gets the start again. He was solid but not special against Ottawa, especially considering he let in another softie. Tim Thomas was outstanding against the sniper-ific Pens last night. If Manny shows up with his B-game against the Sabres, this blog will officially endorse Tim Thomas for starting goaltender.

- These teams have lost only one game combined -- and by only one goal at that. The Sabres are undefeated, but lost to Atlanta in a shootout (the Bruins are better than the Thrashers). The B's have earned charity points from Montreal and Pittsburgh, but lost to the Wild (are the Sabres better than the Wild? We'll find out Thursday).

- Thomas Vanek was the Player of the Week to start the season. He's really good, and underrated. But he should not lead the league in scoring. Tonight would be a nice time for him to come back to earth.

- Buffalo has eaten the Bruins' lunch lately, especially at home. Tonight is not an insignificant test for an improving Bruins team which fancies itself playoff-material.

- The Sabres are one of the teams I really hate, along with the Habs and Flyers and Avs (the Oilers earned an honorary spot this week). I suspect that many Bruins fans feel pretty much the same way, and that Sabres fans share the sentiment. The players don't seem to care much for each other either. There is a lot of animosity in this series -- expect it to produce some venom this season. PS -- Sabres, Habs, Flyers and Avs... which one doesn't belong and why? I kid, I kid. (not really)

- PJ Axelsson will probably miss another game, which would make 3 in a row. That's getting close serious-injury territory, though everyone's mum on the exact nature of the injury. I'm predicting a groin pull -- any takers?

- A win tonight would put the Bruins only 1 point behind the currently-unbeaten-in-regulation Sabres. A loss could put them in a last-place tie with the Leafs heading into Thursday's game against Toronto. Don't listen to those tired old cliches of, "We're just trying to play 3 games at a time" and "We're definitely looking past this game". This one is big, and it will be scrappy. Good watchin'.

- Click here to watch a great anti-Sabres rant by that arrogant kid you hated in middle school, while he wears a hairy gumdrop hat.

Other Bruins-friendly previews:
Stanley Cup of Chowder
Previews from enemy trenches:
Blue & Gold

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