NESN’s Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Tuesday afternoon to talk about the Bruins’ victories over the Panthers and Lightning last week, as well as the team’s upcoming matchup against the lowly Sabres on Wednesday.
After dropping a 3-2 contest to the Red Wings on Oct. 14, the Bruins rebounded by defeating the Panthers, and old teammate Tim Thomas , on Thursday before following that up with a dominant 5-0 win over Tampa on Saturday in which all four Bruins lines had at least one goal in the contest.
“If you go back to what they were able to accomplish in Florida, not the prettiest game, not an instant classic, in that win in the final minute against Florida, but an important two points. But the way they played Tampa is a lot closer to the way this team wants to play, not only because it was 5-0, but that balanced scoring, all four lines scoring goals, how they scored,” Brickley said. “It was the way they played, the style that they played. They’re not where they want to be yet, certainly, and that’s to be expected seven games in, but that’s how they want to play.”
So far this season, the Bruins have utilized an unconventional rotation of seven defensemen on the roster, as Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski and Adam McQuaid have all been healthy scratches at various points.
“Sometimes matchups will dictate who plays and who doesn’t when all seven are healthy,” Brickley. “The ability of the left-hand shots to play the right side gives them the options and the luxury of really being able to put different pairs together, depending on who’s playing well, who’s playing in what situation, who’s getting a majority of the power play or the penalty-killing time.”
The Bruins’ next game will take them north to face the Sabres. Buffalo has had a rough start to the season, in last place in the Atlantic Division with a 1-8-1 record.
Buffalo is last in the NHL  in goals per game (1.20) and power-play percentage (8.6 percent). Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller  has been solid this season with a .926 save percentage, but he has barely received any offensive support.
“I think [the Sabres] can improve and they’ll still be looking to move [Miller],” Brickley said. “I think that it’s definitely going to happen, and I think it’s going to happen this year. He’s motivated, and I won’t say by self-interest … but with the Olympics, he wants his numbers to reflect his effort and his abilities to stop the puck.”
Bruins backup goalie Chad Johnson  is likely going to get the start against Buffalo. It will be the first start of the season for Johnson, who signed with the Bruins on July 5. The Calgary native has not played in a NHL  game since April 18, 2013.
“There’s always a discussion to be had when you have back-to-back games with travel,” Brickley said. “Which goaltender do you play? Do you play your best goaltender against the weaker team and absolutely secure the two points? And then deal with being someone fatigued and hope that your backup goaltender or more of a rope-a-dope style might allow you to get points in the second one? Or do you allow your team concept, the way you play with your backup goaltender who probably should play against the weaker opponents, play against the weaker team?
“I think that is probably the obvious way that they want to approach this back-to-back situation, but Chad Johnson  is going to have to play. We’re going to find out what Chad Johnson  has to offer in the Bruin goal over the next six weeks. Not only do you back-to-backs this week, you have a back-to-back next week with Pittsburgh and Anaheim, and then starting on Nov. 14 to the end of the month, the Bruins will play 10 games in 17 days.”