The Bruins begin their quest for the Stanley Cup on Thursday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Buffalo. To pull off an upset against the third-seeded Northeast Division champions, the Black and Gold must have three things going for them.
Yes, the Bruins enter the game with the second-best goals allowed per game average, but let's be real — that's a result of goaltending. If the Bruins are to contain what can be a lethal Buffalo transition game, they need to be smart in their own end.
The goaltending will be there in Tuukka Rask, but the B's cannot afford the desperate, careless passes that burned them when they allowed three goals in the first period of a 3-2 loss to the Sabres on March 29. The defense is definitely banged up, but if Boston stays within head coach Claude Julien's game plan, it can contain the Buffalo forwards.
2. Power Play
Neither the Bruins nor Sabres had a particularly effective power play this season, with the Bruins ranking 23rd (16.6 percent) and the Sabres ranking 17th (17.6 percent). Sooner or later, one of them has to catch fire, right? This would be the time for the Bruins to do so because with their lack of scoring, they need to take advantage of every chance they have.
3. Penalty Kill
This has been the one area — other than Rask's goaltending — in which the Bruins have had consistent success. Despite the Sabres' power-play woes, the Bruins cannot afford to let the likes of Tim Connolly and Thomas Vanek get any room on the power play. They also may be able to catch the Sabres sleeping on their power play, just like they did against the Hurricanes last Saturday, when they scored three shorthanded goals in a record-breaking 1:04.
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