BUFFALO -- Claude Julien has pointed out in recent days that the Bruins need to do a better job focusing in games against teams out of the playoff race.
There is good reason for that.
The B's have 16 regulation losses on the season, and 10 of them have come against non-playoff teams. That speaks to a loss of focus against lesser teams, and difficulty keeping their level of play consistent regardless of the opponent.
Of course the Bruins are Stanley Cup champs and theyve already experienced epic clashes with the class of the league this season. Their games against the Flyers, Rangers, Penguins, Canucks and Red Wings were all days when the Black and Gold put their best foot forward.
But with teams scratching and clawing to say alive as the regular-season schedule begins to shrink in the dog days of February, points became more difficult to come by and Buffalo should be a great example of that on Wednesday night at the First Niagara Center.
Theyre playing well right now. The first two games we played against them were good games and were not expecting anything different, said Chris Kelly. They want to move up the standings just like we do. If you look there are a lot of three point games at this time of year and teams are bearing down.
If theres a chance for at least one point then you better believe both teams are going to get that point. There are no easy points in the second half and that hasnt been a secret for years.
Julien is fully aware that the Sabres have won three of their last four games, and are in the last gasps of their playoff hopes. Buffalo sits 11 points behind Ottawa for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but does hold some games in hand.
The Sabres also still hold quite a healthy bit of ill will for the Bruins after Milan Lucic took out Ryan Miller with an open ice collision thats seemingly set Buffalos season on a spiraling path ever since.
Every team is battling to stay in the playoffs or for a playoff spot, said Julien. We expect every team from here on in until the trade deadline, at least, to be very hard to play against; even after that there will be teams looking to be spoilers and guys fighting for jobs on teams that wont be making the playoffs.
The rest will be about fighting for position. I dont think there will be any easy games from here on in.
It sounds like it should be a fun ride for the rest of the season with the grind portion of the regular season officially entered.