In the eyes of many, when the Boston Bruins and the Buffalo Sabres hit the ice, it wouldn’t exactly be deemed a rivalry. But that system of thought may soon be changing. After a discouraging loss in Buffalo on Thursday, the Bruins, with the help of solid goaltending from Rask, who stopped 34 of 35 shots faced, went on the top the Sabres 4-1.
Something that is generally expected between the clubs though, rough and tough old time hockey and the penalty summary supported that theory. However, it wasn’t a usual suspect that dropped the gloves for Boston, but Patrice Bergeron who marked his first regular season fighting major against the Sabres Tyler Myers at 14:07 of the second.
“Yeah I mean it’s just I guess one of those things that it was in the heat of the moment,” said Bergeron on his fight with Myers. “And we were kind both going at each other – cross-checking each other – and we just decided to I guess you know obviously drop the gloves.”
With a lineup full of injuries, it’s the ability to take on all rolls that has continued to keep Boston on top when defending home ice. It’s also the depth of young guns, who have skated into the opportunity set before them blazing. Ryan Spooner tallied his 4th assist of the season, while David Warsofsky continued to shine in his second NHL start.
But the most surprising addition to the club has come in the form of 22-year-old forward, Reilly Smith. Acquired in the July trade that sent Tyler Seguin to Dallas, Smith has provided what Seguin could not — consistency. Smith both opened and closed the scoring in the 4-1 win, placing his goal count in the double digits at 11.
“Well he’s a good player and I think this is the first time he’s really had a good shot at playing at this level and making sure he has the opportunity to play in the areas that we think he can excel and he’s done a great job,” said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien on Smith. “He’s a crafty player, he’s a smart player, he makes a lot of good plays and very reliable. So I like his game and I’ve liked it since the beginning of the year.”
While criticism surrounded the young player during the summer months, with skeptics claiming the trade wasn’t a beneficial one for Boston, Smith has proven a worthy addition to the roster. Despite recent success, becoming complacent isn’t an option.
“Yeah I set high goals for myself coming into this team and this organization,” said Smith. “It seems like I’ve kind of surpassed some of them. The biggest thing is just to keep your foot on the pedal and make sure you’re not getting too comfortable because that’s when your game starts to slow and when it slumps down like that it takes a toll on your confidence and play making so the biggest thing is just daily approach, get better everyday.”
The Bruins will look to keep the momentum going as they travel to Nashville for a Monday night contest before a brief Christmas holiday. The team will play host to Ottawa on Friday December 27th.