By Mike Harrington
The Boston Bruins had a longer-than-usual skate today in First Niagara Center to prepare for tonight's game because they haven't been on the ice since Friday morning. They had no morning skate yesterday while the city was digging out from its blizzard and then the game against Tampa Bay, originally moved from 1 p.m. to 7, was postponed altogether because a transit shutdown prevented most people from getting to TD Garden.
The team met at the arena in the evening and bused to Hanscom Field in nearby Bedford for a charter flight that got here shortly before midnight. Snow totals in Boston were approaching two feet and pushing three feet in the suburbs.
"It was a different type of day, a lot more on the phone than anything else trying to figure out what was going on and plan for whatever was going to happen," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "You ended up doing a lot more office work than hockey work. ... It reminded me of back home (Blind River, Ont, on the Northern edge of Lake Huron) where it's a normal situation for us. But it was nice for us to be able to get out last night rather than fly out today and scramble to get here to Buffalo."
Most of the players live downtown near the Garden, in either the Charlestown section or North End areas of the city.
"You kind of had to change a few things up obviously," said former Sabre Daniel Paille, the Welland, Ont., native. "I just relaxed at home, walked around a little bit, soaked the atmosphere around the city. There was definitely a lot of snow mounting high everywhere so I couldnt imagine how the suburbs were."
As for hockey, Paille and the injured Shawn Thornton and Brad Marchand are all game-time decisions. The Bruins were apparently pondering Anton Khudobin in net tonight but the unscheduled day off might lead them to stay with Tuukka Rask.
The Bruins are 7-1-1 overall and the 7-4 loss to the Sabres Jan. 31 at the Garden is their only regulation loss. The Sabres, oddly enough, can pull within two points of the Northeast Division lead with a regulation win tonight (Boston still has three games in hand).
Since Buffalo's 7-4 win in Boston, the Sabres have played five games the the Bruins only. And Boston has allowed just one goal in those two, wins at Toronto and Montreal.
"It was a breakdown in our system," Julien said of the first meeting. "When you give a team that kind of space and those kind of opportunities, they're certainly a team that knows how to put the puck in the net. No doubt we'll focus on being better with our game without the puck tonight."