BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres have developed a bit of bad blood, and while Claude Julien may not come out and say he expects some gloves to drop on Thursday night at the TD Garden, actions can speak louder than words.
The coach said Thursday morning that Chris Bourque will be a healthy scratch, and his replacement will be Lane MacDermid. Daniel Paille will move up to the third line with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley, while MacDermid will skate with Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell on the fourth line.
“As far as I’m concerned, speculations are speculations. Until it happens, that’s all they are,” Julien said about the talk of the Sabres’ increased toughness this season. “We’ve played our style of game forever and we don’t plan on changing that, so there’s nothing, as far as we’re concerned, that is something to be worried about.”
MacDermid adds a bit more punch in the lineup in a game that could very well feature fisticuffs. Though he’s listed at just 6-foot-3, 203 pounds, MacDermid showed he’s fearless last season in his NHL debut, when he took on Mike Rupp in New York. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Rupp had more than 60 NHL fights to his name at the time, and HockeyFights.com votes showed MacDermid more than held his own.
There is much anticipation for a physical game Thursday night due to the history between the teams. Much of that stems from November 2011, when all 225 pounds of Milan Lucic went barreling into goaltender Ryan Miller, who had ventured quite a ways outside of his crease to play a loose puck. None of Miller’s teammates responded by attempting to take a run at Lucic, and Miller called Lucic “gutless” (among other unprintable things) after the game.
A couple of weeks later, when the two teams met in Buffalo, Paul Gaustad challenged Lucic to a fight, which Lucic won handily. Zdeno Chara also emerged from a line brawl in a 1-on-1 tussle with Robyn Regehr, a bout that also went in the Bruins’ favor.
After spending much of last season essentially serving as Boston’s punching bag, the Sabres added some size and toughness (perceived or otherwise) in adding players like Steve Ott and John Scott. Ott has his own history with the Bruins as a key instigator in the famous Stars-B’s game from November 2008. Scott, meanwhile, stands at 6-foot-8 and weighs 255 pounds. He has one fight this season, though he got beaten soundly by the smaller but much more experienced fighter Colton Orr.
Scott has his own history with the Bruins. After Thornton suffered a gash in his forehead from a skate blade in March 2011, the Bruins’ enforcer took offense to some “chirping” from the Chicago bench, and he said so publicly after the game. When informed of Thornton’s comments, Scott, then with the Blackhawks, said, “If I’m in the lineup, he’s more than welcome to come chirp at me. I’ll kick the [expletive] out of him.”
Scott should get the chance to back up those words if he wants to, though with Thornton, Lucic, MacDermid, Chara, Adam McQuaid and Johnny Boychuk all preparing for a physical game, that much-ballyhooed Sabres toughness is in for a pretty significant test.