|Sabres looking to recapture October magic vs. Bruins|
This time last month, the Boston Bruins were surging, though they were still looking up at one team in the Atlantic Division standings: the Buffalo Sabres.
What a difference a month makes.
The Sabres are in a tailspin, having lost eight of their last nine games (1-6-2). They'll look to right the ship Thursday as they visit the division-leading Bruins for the first of four meetings between the teams this season.
Buffalo, having just finished a three-games-in-four-days stretch with a 4-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, will kick off a three-game road trip that also includes stops at the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. Boston, meanwhile, is returning home after beating the New Jersey Devils 5-1 Tuesday.
The Sabres began the season 9-2-1, but injuries and ineffective goaltending have since derailed the club.
Against the Wild on Tuesday, captain Jack Eichel attempted to spark his teammates by dropping the gloves against Minnesota forward Joel Eriksson Ek, ultimately receiving a four-minute double minor for roughing after going unengaged.
"Listen, we're all in this together," Eichel said. "No one's feeling sorry for us. We can't feel sorry for ourselves. It's frustrating, the position that we're in. But it's just going to test our character right now and our will to compete on a nightly basis and just our will to win."
Eichel's effort wasn't lost on coach Ralph Krueger, who praised the moment as a "sign of leadership." Knowing his team needs to shake things up, Krueger experimented with different lines at practice Wednesday, shifting Jimmy Vesey to the wing alongside Eichel and Sam Reinhart.
"We have a feeling that his work has been strong, and a goal will explode him into a stronger secondary scoring position," Krueger said of Vesey. "Whether that will be the line tomorrow or not, we'll see, but it's just an option we have."
Another option the Sabres might have is forward Johan Larsson, who was back at practice Wednesday after missing the past three games with an upper-body injury. Larsson's return would be welcome for a Buffalo squad that has put three players on injured reserve this month.
A return that would be a huge boost for the Bruins would be that of top-line center Patrice Bergeron, who is expected to be ready to go Thursday after missing two games with a lower-body injury.
"I'm feeling better. It's progressing well," Bergeron said Wednesday. "Today was a pretty good skate, so I'm feeling good."
Defenseman Torey Krug (upper body) also skated Wednesday, though Krug isn't expected back until the weekend.
Also hampered by injuries of late, Boston has endured its first slump of the season. Its win Tuesday was just its second over a seven-game stretch (2-2-3), with three of the five losses in that span coming via shootout.
Consistent for the club has been the play of forward David Pastrnak, whose two goals in the win over the Devils ran his league-leading total to 19.
Last season, the Bruins won three of four meetings with the Sabres, though their lone defeat came 4-2 at home in December.
--Field Level Media