Morning skate: Sabres edition
|11.07.09 at 11:13 am ET|
Greetings from the TD Garden where the Bruins will take on the Northeast Division first place Buffalo Sabres, who are playing back-to-back games after dropping a 5-2 home game to the Flyers on Friday night.
Here are a few notes to mull over while the Bruins are conducting their morning skate, and the Sabres hold an optional run-through following Boston.
–The Sabres have allowed the fewest goals in the NHL this season (29) and, according to former Sabres forward — and current Bruin — Daniel Paille, have tweaked their systems quite a bit ‘ from an aggressive, offensively explosive attack several years ago with Thomas Vanek and Daniel Briere to a defensively-sound system geared to take advantage of goaltender Ryan Miller.
‘There has been a couple of system changes that they wanted to do. One of the things for them [they wanted to change] was bearing down in the defensive zone,’ said Paille. ‘It’s one of those things were you’re just chipping the puck out at the right time and not turning the puck over in the defensive zone; just being at the right place at the right through the whole ‘D’ zone. They wanted to focus and improve on that, and they’ve definitely done that. Having a very good goalie in Ryan Miller helps as well.’
–The two tallest players in the NHL will tangle in Saturday night’s game as 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara gets the rare experience of looking another hockey player straight into the eyes along the TD Garden ice. Sabres rookie defenseman Tyler Myers is the second tallest NHL player this season at 6-foot-8, and he’s impressed Buffalo enough that the team opted not to return the 19-year-old to his junior team after nine games. Myers has 3 goals and 4 assists and is a plus-4 in 13 games and is averaging 20:48 of ice time per game.
–First game back at the TD Garden for Will Ferrell look-a-like Steve Montador, who joined Boston’s defenseman corps down the stretch last season in a trade deadline move with the Anaheim Ducks. Montador was thrust into a bigger role with the Bruins once injuries hit the blueline during the playoffs, and had his share of turnovers during the semifinals loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. The 29-year-old Montador has three assists in 13 games this season after signing with Buffalo last summer.
–For all those hoping for a showdown between Tim Thomas and Ryan Miller, expect 20-year-old Sabres rookie Jhonas Enroth to possibly get the start between the pipes for Buffalo. Miller is coming off giving up four goals on 37 shots in a 5-2 loss to the Flyers on Friday night, and could use a night off after starting in 12 of Buffalo’s first 13 games this season. Backup Patrick Lalime is battling a groin issue that’s led to Enroth’s recall from the Portland Pirates.
Thomas and Miller are two of the bigger NHL household names competing for spots on the US Olympic hockey team set to be named during the Jan. 1 telecast of the NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park. Miller has been one of the best goalies in the NHL this season and is off to a 9-2-1 start with a 1.89 goals against average and a .936 save percentage.