The Buffalo Sabres wrap up their three-game home stand Wednesday night and open up a stretch where they’re set to take on three divisional opponents.
The Boston Bruins come to First Niagara Center on Wednesday and Sabres co-captain Steve Ott hopes the rivalry between the two teams brings out the best of his club.
“The only way we’re going to be able to match Boston is [with] our compete [level] and work ethic,” Ott said after the morning skate. “They’re a great hockey team out there and a great measuring stick. For ourselves, if we stick in there with them and play hard hockey and end up on the right end of things, it’s going to give a lot of confidence to a lot of guys in this dressing room.”
Sabres defenseman Henrik Tallinder was with the New Jersey Devils the past three seasons and is just now getting re-acquainted to the Bruins-Sabres rivalry.
“I wasn’t really here when big things happened, but from what I’ve heard, it’s getting there. It’s getting nastier and nastier,” he said. “But you kind of have to focus on what you’re going to do out there and hopefully we can get two points out of this game.”
The Sabres hope to climb back in the standings and rebound from their 1-8-1 start. In those first 10 games, they’ve played strong teams like Detroit, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Colorado. According to Sabres coach Ron Rolston, the Bruins are another tough opponent.
“We’ve seen some of the best come through already and this is another one of those teams,” he said. “Guys have to be prepared no matter who we’re playing but this is a team that offers a lot of challenges because of the depth they have and their competitive nature and the continuity that they’ve had over the years.”
After the game against Boston, the Sabres travel to meet the Florida Panthers and then the Tampa Bay Lightning, two Atlantic Division opponents currently ahead of them in the standings.
Rookie Nikita Zadorov will be in the lineup again for Buffalo. Rolston said he’d like to give the 18-year-old defenseman more minutes. He skated 11:01 in his professional debut on Saturday against Colorado.
Zadorov likes to play a physical game and had three hits against the Avalanche. Rolston said that making sure Zadorov doesn’t go out of his way to land a check is an area they’re concentrating on.
“He needs to focus on that. He can be physical but he needs to make sure that he’s putting himself in good position all the time and not giving up a lot,” Rolston said.
Ryan Miller was the first goaltender off the ice and is expected to start. Defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen and Jamie McBain took on extra work at the end of the skate and are likely going to be healthy scratches against Boston.
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