The Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres dance for the third time in four days at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo. It was pretty clear who the better team was last night. The Bruins made it look easy with Jeremy Swayman between the pipes. The 22-year-old prospect, and potential future for the Bruins in net, was brilliant with 29 saves on 30 shots for a 0.967 save percentage.
He was selected 111th in the 2017 draft and could be a steal at this rate for the Bruins. They got a steal with Tuukka Rask when the Toronto Maple Leafs traded him to Boston in 2006. The Bruins and Leafs swapped goaltenders, with Andrew Raycroft going to Toronto, and Rask going to Boston. That was a big yikes for the Leafs. Rask could be going to the Hall of Fame, while Raycroft flamed out and ended up in Vancouver after inconsistent play in Toronto.
The Bruins could very well go from Rask to Swayman, who is showing a lot of promise. This is an organization that has had some good fortunes in the crease. Don’t forget about how good Tim Thomas was for the Bruins. He gets forgotten about sometimes, but Thomas was critical in the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run in 2011. The Bruins are expected to go back to Rask after he blanked the Sabres on Tuesday. They’ve been having fun against the Sabres over the last two games with a 2-0 and 5-1 win.
Three different Bruins recorded 2 points, as Matt Grzelyck, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak all found goals against Dustin Tokarski. Tokarski was hammered for 5 goals on 38 shots for a 0.868 save percentage. The Sabres have had injuries to their goaltenders, as Linus Ullmark on the shelf indefinitely with a concussion, and Carter Hutton absent with a lower-body injury for at least the next two weeks. The Sabres are going to the farm system to find goaltenders. They’ve been relying mostly on Tokarski, who has largely been misfiring.
22-year-old Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is scheduled to get the starting nod for the Sabres on Friday night. This will be his NHL debut, which is certainly premature given his struggles in Rochester with the Americans. The goaltenders aren’t the only injury problems for the Sabres. Their injury list is long. Kyle Okposo and Jack Eichel are both OUT for the rest of the season. Head below for our free Bruins vs. Sabres pick on April 23, 2021.
Boston Bruins vs. Buffalo Sabres NHL Betting Odds:
Bruins vs. Sabres Prediction:
Luukkonen is being pressed into duty because of a dire goaltending situation for the Sabres right now. Another injury and they’re going to be in some deep trouble. There’s nothing to lose for the Sabres at this point, and they might as well tank some more, but an attempt to make some games competitive would be difficult. Luukkonen was having problems in the AHL before being called up to the NHL.
The Sabres were hoping to get him more experience before brining up to the big leagues, but injuries have made it difficult on that plan. Luukkonen has posted a GAA of 3.60 and 0.888 save percentage with the Americans in 14 games. He was backing up Tokarski in the AHL, and now Luukkonen is making his debut against the Boston Bruins. The Bruins are on a run right now with six straight wins from April 13 to April 22.
After getting blasted by the Washington Capitals, 8-1, the Bruins have collected 2 points in six straight outings. The Sabres will likely come out with a little more effort to avoid getting swept against the Bruins, but with Luukkonen in the crease, it’s hard to see much changing for the Sabres. Boston is fourth in the league with 32.6 shots per game. Luukkonen will likely see plenty of pucks in his NHL debut.
This is a terrible team to be on to make an NHL debut. The Sabres’ defence is weak at best with 3.4 goals against per game for 28th in the league. You can point to the goaltending, but a lot of shots have been hitting the target. Buffalo has conceded an average of 33.1 shots per game for 29th in the NHL. Conversely, the Bruins are fourth with 27.7 shots allowed per game, and fifth with 2.4 goals against.
The Sabres go into tonight with just 1 goal against the Bruins in two outings. With Rask in net, the offence is likely going to struggle again. Rask has been in good form with a 2.22 GAA and 0.916 save percentage this year. He shutout the Sabres Tuesday, as he faced 32 shots and stopped them all. The Sabres might offer a bit more than last night, but I could still see a 4-2 or 5-2 win for the Bruins.