Sunday, February 11, 2018

The "Big, Bad Bruins" are bad (ass) in a different way.

Published by, 2-10-2018

There's a clip of Sabres defenseman Jim Schoenfeld blasting Boston Bruins forward Wayne Cashman through the boards at the old Memorial Auditorium followed by the two engaging in a fight right where the Zamboni enters the ice. The clip in and of itself is great but thanks to werqa123, we get to see it with some context as the Sabres overcame an early 2-0 deficit to beat the Bruins 7-3 on December 12, 1972 (fight @ :54-mark):

"Rookie defenseman and sometime rock singer Jim Schoenfeld was a commanding figure on the ice," said Sabres play-by-play man Ted Darling in the voice over, "taking on the Bruins single-handily, one by one." In addition to Cashman, Schoenfeld dropped the gloves with Bobby Orr, who was a pretty tough customer, and Carol Vadnais, an able and very willing pugilist.

That was the price the Sabres had to pay to earn respect back then. These were "Big, Bad Bruins" of the early '70's, the defending Stanley Cup Champions with two Cups in the last three years. The Sabres were a fledgling franchise, a mere two years into their existence with, some good players, most notably Gilbert Perreault, who were trying to gain the respect of teams in the league. Safe to say that they pretty much started on that road with that game.

The Bruins were a tough lot back then and you know it's true when a Hall of Fame defenseman known for his skating and offensive prowess, is a willing pugilist. That willingness to mix it up is still true today, even though both the Bruins and the league itself is far removed from the Slapshot 70's.

It took Boston 39 years to win the Stanley Cup again and they did so with many of the same traits they had back in the 70's which included playing a rugged, in-your-face style backed by top-notch goaltending. Boston has struggled a bit since their last 2011 Cup victory and rebooted their club on the fly after a Finals loss to Chicago in 2013.

Backed once again by solid goaltending, Boston a talented, mobile defense and a quick, tenacious, skilled group of forwards that go full bore much in the gritty Bruins tradition, but without all the fanfare that went along with the fights. They finally found their stride this season hand have rolled to an 18-1-4 record that has them knocking on the door of the league's best record. They've won four in a row and are 9-1-0 in their last 10.

That's what's in store for the Sabres tonight when they face off at 7 pm in Boston.

Buffalo is coming off of a 4-3 win at home against a desperate NY Islanders team that's on the precipice of a playoff spot. After jumping out to a 3-0 lead, the Sabres allowed three unanswered goals before Sam Reinhart, the game's first star, scored the game-winner with less than five minutes to go in regulation.

The win finally got the franchise to 1000 home wins after being stuck on 999 during a four-game losing streak (0-3-1.)

Buffalo is 2-6-2 in their last 10 vs. the Bruins, 4-4-2 on the road. It's the third of four meetings between the two clubs this season. Buffalo won the first one in Boston back in October as they over came a 4-1 deficit with three unanswered goals in regulation before Ryan O'Reilly won it for them in overtime. Boston rolled into Buffalo in December and proceeded to shut the Sabres out 3-0 which included two empty net goals with less than two minutes to go in regulation.

Boston goalie Tuuka Rask is on fire with a 19-0-2 in his last 21 games, according to Fox Sports, and has yielded either one or two goals in each of his last seven starts, something that doesn't bode well for a Sabres team that's scoring a league-low 2.30 goals/game. Rask is 13-5-1 all-time against the Sabres, according to Fox, with a 2.06 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.

Sabres' forward Zemgus Girgensons was not the morning skate, according to reports from TD Garden. Buffalo coach Phil Housley told the gathered media Girgensons "was feeling a bit under the weather" and that he'd be a game-time decision.

In his stead was Scott Wilson while defenseman Justin Falk was in for Josh Gorges skating alongside rookie Victor Antipin. Every thing else remained the same at the morning skate save for Chad Johnson manning the net tonight instead of starter Robin Lehner.

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