BOSTON -- If there is going to be any carryover tonight from the Milan Lucic-Ryan Miller incident last season and the bad blood that ensued between the Sabres and Bruins after that, neither team was letting on following their game-day skates at TD Garden on Thursday.
The Sabres went out and added 6-foot-8, 270-pound enforcer John Scott and agitator Steve Ott in the offseason, and many said it was so they could stand up to the Big Bad Bruins. With that in mind, there was plenty of media speculation that a "Slapshot"-type game could be in store tonight, but both sides did their best to deflect such speculation.
“I have no problem with anything. It’s their choice to build a team any way they want,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien when asked what he thought of the Sabres' offseason moves. “Speculation is speculation as far as I’m concerned, and that’s all it is until something happens. We’ve played our style of game forever and we don’t plan on changing that. There’s nothing, as far as I’m concerned, to be worried about.”
Julien then suggested that maybe reporters should ask Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff about his team’s plans tonight and why they made those additions.
Which they did.
"It was just overall team toughness, make us a grittier team," said Ruff. "It had nothing to do with the Bruins. You try to win the puck battles and the territorial battles. We have to win a game. Not coming out of here with points is not being successful. In a short season, we need points. We've answered the physical challenge. We've been there for each other from day one in this. We play a gritty style, a hitting style. We have to win games."
As far as Ruff and the Sabres are concerned, the Lucic-Miller incident is over and in the past.
"We dealt with [Lucic] last year," Ruff said. "We had a game where Paul Gaustad fought Lucic and [Robyn] Regehr fought [Zdeno] Chara. We played a couple great games against them and came away with points. Hockey is about winning the game, winning the mental battle, winning the physical battle. It's about winning the territorial battles."
Scott was asked the same questions and was preaching the same mantra, but did say that if he were a Sabre when Lucic barreled over Miller, he would’ve answered the bell.
“I would’ve done something, that’s for sure,” Scott said. “If I was on the ice, I would’ve done something. And if not, in my next shift I would’ve done something.”
Scott was then asked what he will do if the chance to fight Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton arises.
“Then I’ll fight him,” he said. “I’m not afraid of him or anyone.”
But while both sides expect a physical game, they say their focus isn’t on dropping the gloves but on getting the win.
“We’re all aware of who they added and what’s going on, but we have to focus on our team and our game,” the Bruins' Dennis Seidenberg said. “If something happens, we have enough guys that can take care of things, so we’re not worried about that.”