Considering the current state of the Buffalo Sabres, the Boston Bruins seem to have a good opportunity to win back-to-back games for the first time in more than a month.
In the wake of firing coach Ralph Krueger, the Sabres look to avoid a 13th straight defeat, and also end their recent struggles against the visiting Bruins, on Thursday night.
Buffalo is 0-10-2 since winning 4-1 at New Jersey on Feb. 23 and has been outscored 50-19 during its longest losing streak since dropping 14 straight during the 2014-15 season. The Sabres’ 3-2 loss at New Jersey on Tuesday proved to be the last straw for Krueger, who was relieved of his duties Wednesday morning.
Krueger, 61, went 36-49-12 in fewer than two seasons guiding the Sabres, who are 6-18-4, have an NHL-low 16 points, been outscored 35-9 during an 0-8-1 home skid and are 0-for-18 on the power play over the last 11 contests. Assistant Don Granato will take over on an interim basis, according to Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams, who addressed the media Wednesday.
“We need to be better in every way,” Adams said. “You name it, we need to do it better. We need to coach better. We need to scout better. We need to practice better.
“This is about moving forward. This is about, how do we improve?”
It hasn’t helped that Buffalo is currently without star Jack Eichel (upper-body injury) and No. 1 goaltender Linus Ullmark (lower body). Victor Olofsson is tied for the team lead with 19 points but has none over the last three games. High-profile acquisition Taylor Hall, meanwhile, has gone four straight without a point.
“There has to be pride that goes with putting on a Buffalo jersey,” Adams added. “There has to be a pride of showing up every day and being a National Hockey League player.”
None of this would seem to bode well with Boston coming to town for games Thursday and Saturday.
The Bruins are 5-7-2 without consecutive victories since winning five straight from Feb. 1-12. However, they’ve won five in a row over Buffalo and should have some momentum after grinding out a 2-1 victory at Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
Trent Frederic scored the tiebreaking goal at the 7:07 mark of the third period, and Dan Vladar made 34 saves to win his first NHL start, as the Bruins won on the road for just the second time in seven games.
“It was a great team effort,” Vladar said. “(It was) really good for us that we got the win.
“Keep working hard, because it’s worth it.”
It’s uncertain if Vladar will get a second straight start. Teammate Tuukka Rask is still day-to-day with an undisclosed injury while Jaroslav Halak (2.15 goals-against average) allowed seven goals in losing his last two starts.
Halak, though, is 12-3-0 with a 2.13 goals-against all-time against Buffalo.
Boston’s David Pastrnak scored his team-leading 13th goal Tuesday. Pastrnak, along with fellow Bruins stars Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron have combined for six goals and 10 assists in their last three games against the Sabres.
Buffalo’s current goaltending duo of Carter Hutton (3.43 GAA) and Jonas Johansson (3.79 GAA) are a combined 1-14-2 this season.
–Field Level Media