|Bruins not taking Sabres lightly||02.08.12 at 1:11 pm ET|
BUFFALO — Bruins coach Claude Julien said Tuesday that he’d like to see his team play better against non-playoff teams. The B’s will face one Wednesday in Buffalo, and the Sabres are desperately trying to climb up the standings to shake the “non-playoff team” label.
The Sabres were a tough team to project at the beginning of the season. They had spent money in the offseason, but there was still question as to whether they were deep enough to be a legitimate contender. Injuries and inconsistency have answered those questions, and Sabres are currently 14th in the Eastern Conference, just one point ahead of the last-place Hurricanes.
Yet Buffalo has picked it up of late, going 3-0-1 over its last four games to follow up a five-game losing streak. This might be the point in the season in which cellar-dwelling teams begin to embrace the role of “spoiler,” but when the Bruins look at the Sabres, they see a hungry team that wants to make up the 11 points that currently separate Buffalo from a playoff spot.
“There are obviously maybe some teams that are out of the playoff picture, but [Buffalo] is definitely not one of them,” Bruins center Chris Kelly said after Wednesday’s morning skate. “I think they’ve been playing well of late. They want to come out and play well, just like we do and they want to move up the standings, just like we do as well.”
The Bruins expect a hard game from the Lindy Ruff-less Sabres, but at this point in their schedule, they expect a hard game from every team they face.
“If you look, there’s a lot of three-point games. There’s no secret to that,” Kelly said. “Teams are bearing down, and if there’s a for at least one point, you’d better believe both teams are going to get that one point and they’re going to fight for that second point. There’s no easy points in the second half, and that hasn’t been a secret for years.”
The Bruins are 2-0-0 against the Sabres this season, and they hope to carry momentum from Sunday’s 4-1 win over the Capitals into Wednesday’s contest.
“Especially in the Washington game, I thought we played a consistent 60 minutes,” Kelly said. “For the most part, we were in control the entire game. We got back to doing those little things that make us successful, the attention to detail, a lot of things that maybe go unnoticed and don’t make the highlights, but are needed if you’re going to be successful.”
Based on the lines in Wednesday’s morning skate, Claude Julien is going to go with the same lines against the Sabres that he used against the Capitals. That means that Kelly will remain on the team’s top line between Milan Lucic and Rich Peverley.
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