It's an exciting day here in Buffalo, as the Sabres and Bruins get ready for Game 1 in what many are predicting to be a very long series between two pretty evenly matched teams.
Buffalo's Tim Connolly (second on the Sabres in points) is expected to be back after recovering from what was reportedly a foot injury. He missed the last nine games, including the most recent two games against Boston. Andrew Ference, who has been dealing with a groin injury/hernia, will be returning to the lineup for Boston.
I got a chance to ask the Boston players what they think will be the keys to this series. Here's a compilation of their responses:
Good breakouts. Make tape-to-tape passes.
Good forecheck, especially in the neutral zone.
Puck management. Limit turnovers.
Spend time in offensive zone, be aggressive in setting up the cycle, make good pinches by defensemen.
Net-front presence. Make sure there is traffic in front.
Get "grade A" scoring opportunities against Miller.
Recognize Buffalo's ability to engage the four-man attack. Try to prevent the fourth man from getting into the mix.
Team defense, sticking to the defensive system.
Play with an edge. The game could come down to who can handle physicality better.
Score more goals than Buffalo — it sounds obvious, but several players said this earnestly). Score more than two goals.