Over the past two seasons, whenever the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres have played each other, John Scott has been in Buffalo’s lineup.
That might be the case again Thursday night when the two clubs meet at First Niagara Center at 7 p.m.
Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said the 6-foot-8 left wing will be a game-time decision. Buffalo is coming off a 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday and received quality minutes from all four lines. Scott was a healthy scratch for that game.
Since the coaching staff may not want to disrupt the chemistry the forwards are developing, they may try Scott on defense.
“This will be a real game-time decision whether we put him in. We’ve been working with him the last couple games,” Nolan said after the team’s optional skate Thursday morning. “Everybody played well last [game] so it depends on the mood before the game, I guess.”
Scott did some defensive work with Chad Ruhwedel at practice Wednesday, but since the team has 13 forwards and seven defensemen, that wasn’t unusual. Scott’s practiced on defense at various points in time this season to give the team an even number on the blue line. He did some additional one-on-one skating drills Wednesday with assistant coach Joe Sacco as well.
He skated with the defensemen during the morning skate Thursday and it’s actually a pretty familiar spot for him. He played a lot of defense in his career before he signed with Buffalo in July 2012.
“I think he looks good,” Nolan said. “Defense, you just have to move the puck up or if you’re in trouble, ring it around the boards. He’s a big man that can cover a lot of ice and he’s an intelligent guy too, so he should be able to pick it up.”
Nolan did not give any clues as to which player may sit if Scott dresses, but he did say that no other lineup changes are expected. Chad Ruhwedel will be the team’s healthy scratch on defense. Ryan Miller will get the start between the pipes.
Miller is 25-9-7 against the Bruins in his career with a 2.57 goals against average and a .918 save percentage. He hasn’t lost consecutive starts to Boston since the 2008-09 season, posting a 13-4-3 record in his 20 games against the Bruins since those losses. The Bruins defeated Miller and the Sabres 5-2 in their first meeting this season on Oct. 23.
Against the Jets, the Sabres rolled four lines and scored four goals in regulation, which tied a season-high. Nolan shook up the lines a few games ago and it appears as if the new combinations are starting to click.
“We wanted a balanced attack and then all of a sudden, you needed some more minutes from the fourth line last time. They gave us that,” Nolan said. “So if you’re going to play with some energy, you have to have four lines going.”
The Sabres are hoping that they can build off that effort going into a game against an Atlantic Division rival in the Bruins. Sabres forward Marcus Foligno, who scored against Winnipeg, sees the matchup as a good measuring stick for his club.
“It’s fun playing that team. They’ve got some really talented players that you can compare yourself to,” he said. “At the same time, to beat Boston, it would be really good for our team confidence-wise. It’s going to be a tough task tonight, but I’m sure all the guys are on board for that.”
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