The Boston Bruins are set for battle with the Northeast Division-leading Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. It will be Buffalo's first time in the playoffs since 2007 while the Bruins are in their third straight appearance.
The Sabres will have their hands full with the Bruins and Mark Recchi, who has the most career playoff goals (50) of any active playoff participant. He's second in total points, with Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom leading the pack at 165.
Here are some other things to know about the Bruins and Sabres:
1. The No. 3 seed is 19-11 in first-round series against the No. 6 seed (that's Boston) since 1994 — good news for the Sabres. However, since 2003, these No. 3 seeds are 5-7. It's anyone's game.
Boston defeated the Carolina Hurricanes in 1999 in the same scenario, while the Sabres chipped in with their own defeat of No. 3 in 1998 over the Philadelphia Flyers.
2. The B's have the second-best defense (2.33 goals against allowed per game), second fewest road losses (13) and third-best penalty-killing squad (86.4 percent).
The Sabres have the best penalty-kill percentage of any playoff team at 86.6 percent and second overall in the league.
3. Boston's goal-scoring issues have been well documented. With 196 goals, only one team has ranked lower in the past 20 years and still made the playoffs: The 1988-90 Vancouver Canucks' 251 goals ranked last in the then 21-team league.
4. Buffalo has had recent goal-scoring woes as well. Despite being tied for ninth in the league with 231 goals, 22 percent of their production is tied up in Tomas Vanek, Tim Connolly and Patrick Kaleta. All three have had injury problems. Prior to the final weekend of the season, these three players had not played since March 28.
Vanek returned on Saturday, April 10 and scored five goals between Saturday and Sunday. He leads the Sabres with 28 goals. Connolly also returned Sunday.
5. The Bruins have completed their second straight year with a goalie leading the league in both save percentage and goals-against average. Last year was Tim Thomas (.933 save percentage, 2.10 GAA) and 2010 boasts Tuukka Rask (.931, 1.97).
Rask, a rookie, will be playing against quite a few other rookie goaltenders in the playoffs. The Ottawa Senators have Brian Elliot and Pascal Leclaire and Philadelphia checks in with Michael Leighton.
6. While Rask leads the league in save percentage and GAA, Sabres netminder Ryan Miller is second (.929, 2.22). The .929 save percentage is a career best for Miller while his GAA has dropped for the third straight year.
Miller, of course, led all goalies in Olympic play with a 5-1 record and 1.35 GAA. With a silver medal in hand, he's certainly ready for playoff competition.
7. Lindy Ruff, the Sabres coach, is the longest-tenured coach with the same franchise among active coaches. He ranks third all time behind Al Arbour and Billy Reay and will helm the Sabres in the playoffs for the seventh time.
8. Buffalo defenseman Tyler Myers, in his rookie year, ranked 11th among all defensemen in points while tying for 12th in goals. The 20-year-old also appeared in all 82 games and put up an impressive 22:44 time-on-ice mark, which is 23rd among skaters.
9. The Bruins have only played six games this season with no injured players. Boston finished the season with four regulars out of the lineup: Center Mark Savard along with three defensemen in Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Mark Stuart.
The first game of the series will air Thursday night on NESN with coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m.
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