BOSTON -- The last thing the Buffalo Sabres probably need to see tonight is a snarling, angry bunch of Boston Bruins. But judging from coach Claude Julien's mood this morning, they might get just that.
The Bruins are just 2-5-2 in their last nine games and if the season ended today, they would be out of the playoffs. Injuries have certainly been an issue, with Zdeno Chara missing 19 games with a knee injury and David Krejci missing 17 of the last 19 with an undisclosed ailment.
But so has the inconsistency they showed on a three-game road trip to Nashville, Minnesota and Winnipeg that ended with a 1-1-1 record.
The Boston offense is just 22nd in the NHL in goals, with only six on the road trip as it desperately looks for some help on the wing (and rumors persist the B's actually think Chris Stewart of the Sabres might be an answer). Tuukka Rask gets the start in goal tonight trying to turn around his struggles of the last seven starts, when he's posted a 1-4-2 record with a 2.94 goals-against average and .903 save percentage.
"We have to handle it," center Patrice Bergeron said of the battle just to get back into a playoff standing. "It's one of those things that it's experience. You have to make sure you rely on that. Adversity is something we've faced before even though this is different. We're equipped to face it and we all need to step up."
The Bruins are still trying to meld Chara and Krejci back into the lineup and they're only 1-2-2 since Chara returned, as Amalie Benjamin explained in this morning's Boston Globe.
Julien was unhappy after Friday's 2-1 loss in Winnipeg about his offense making too many cute plays and was in a confrontational posture with the Boston media today. Some of his pearls:
---"My job is to make decisions. I don't have to explain everything to you. Your job is you can second-guess. That's your priority and that's the way it is. ... Let me put it this way: It's called coaching."
----"Carl Soderberg's line is really the only one that's scoring. You guys really want me to break it up so we get no one scoring? You pick your poison."
----"I'm not here to explain my every move. We see certain things that we have to make decisions. I"m not carving my players because if I have something to say to them, it will be behind closed doors."
----"When I say second-guessing, you guys can wrack your brains all you want. That's what I do from midnight to 6 in the morning. I wrack my brain trying to figure out what I'm going to do the next day."
----And, finally, Julien unleashed the time-tested coaching classic of "Do you guys watch the games?"
The Sabres, as we said here earlier, did not skate today and coach Ted Nolan will have a roster update around 4:45. Although Buffalo is coming off back-to-back 5-1 losses to Winnipeg and Colorado and Boston is 4-0-1 in the last five meetings, the Bruins are nonetheless wary. The Sabres are 11-10-1 since the last meeting on Oct. 30, a 3-2 Boston overtime win in First Niagara Center.
"We're expecting a hard game," Bergeron said. "They're a team that competes hard and have some young players in there that want to stick. They're a team that's played some good hockey lately and we're aware of that and expecting a tough game."