BOSTON — Tired legs will be no excuse Saturday night for the Bruins and Buffalo Sabres.
Boston and Buffalo will square off at TD Garden in both teams’ first game following the NHL’s three-day holiday break. The Bruins have not played since Tuesday night, while the Sabres have enjoyed an extra-long layoff, with their last contest coming a full week ago.
“I think (the message) is the same as always,” Bruins winger Frank Vatrano said after Saturday’s morning skate. “But we’ve got to focus more on our legs and our hands and kind of getting back to it. It’s only a couple days off, but sometimes you take a couple days off, you can get away from the game.”
The Bruins can take hold of first place in the Atlantic Division with a win and a Montreal Canadiens loss. The Sabres, meanwhile, sit 11 points back of first in the Atlantic, but they took the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks to a shootout in their final game before the break.
The main attraction for Buffalo will be North Chelmsford, Mass., native and former Boston University standout Jack Eichel, who will play against his hometown team for the first time. Another familiar face, former Bruins backup Chad Johnson, will get the nod in net for the Sabres.
Save for Eichel and Johnson, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma declined to share his lineup, meaning some of the below combinations could be tweaked before puck drop.
Jonas Gustavsson is expected to start in goal for the Bruins.
Here are the projected lines and pairings for both teams:
BOSTON BRUINS (19-10-4)
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — Brett Connolly
Matt Beleskey — David Krejci — Loui Eriksson
Frank Vatrano — Ryan Spooner — Jimmy Hayes
Zac Rinaldo — Landon Ferraro — Tyler Randell
Zdeno Chara — Adam McQuaid
Dennis Seidenberg — Colin Miller
Torey Krug — Kevan Miller
BUFFALO SABRES (14-16-4)
Jamie McGinn — Ryan O’Reilly — Sam Reinhart
Evander Kane — Jack Eichel — Tyler Ennis
Zemgus Girgensons — Johan Larsson — Brian Gionta
Nicolas Deslauriers/Matt Moulson — David Legwand — Marcus Foligno
Josh Gorges — Rasmus Ristolainen
Jake McCabe — Zach Bogosian
Mike Weber — Cody Franson
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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