It’s no surprise the Buffalo Sabres are off to another rough start after finishing with the worst record in the NHL last season.
Six months after winning the Presidents’ Trophy, the Boston Bruins’ rocky beginning is a bit more difficult to believe.
Boston attempts to begin turning around its sluggish start by capitalizing on a visit to Buffalo on Saturday night.
The Bruins’ 117 points last season gave them the most in the league for the first time since 1989-90, while Buffalo finished 14 points beneath the next-worst team with 52.
Little has changed for the Sabres during a 1-4-0 start, but plenty has gone the other way for Boston (2-4-0), which has yet to put together a complete performance.
The Bruins countered their best offensive showing yet with their worst defensively in Thursday’s 6-4 defeat at Montreal, their first meeting since being ousted by the Canadiens in seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
"We lost our focus," coach Claude Julien said. "We made some real bad mistakes that ended up in the back of the net.
"I’m disappointed in some of the decisions that we made that cost us some goals. We have to fix that. But as long as the effort is there, you have an opportunity, you have a chance. It was just one of those games with a lot of bouncing pucks. It’s a team thing right now. As a team, we made too many mistakes."
A few of those could be attributed to Milan Lucic, who earned a late boarding penalty followed by a game misconduct after the Canadiens converted on the ensuing power play. The left wing was also fined $5,000 by the league for making an obscene gesture at Montreal fans while entering the penalty box.
Lucic’s two assists Thursday were his first of the season, but he’s still seeking his first goal after scoring 24 last season.
Perhaps facing Buffalo will end his drought. Lucic had four goals and three assists against the Sabres in 2013-14 as Boston went 3-1-1, though two of its three visits to Buffalo ended in defeat.
The Sabres picked up their first two points of the season with a 4-3 shootout win at Carolina on Tuesday, but they continued to struggle at home on Friday. Buffalo was held to three shots in the first period by previously winless Florida and has now been outscored 9-2 on home ice after falling 1-0 to the Panthers.
"We’re definitely not happy," coach Ted Nolan said. "No one’s going to help us get out of this thing except for ourselves. We got a good group of guys. We just got to learn we have to compete and we have to work. We’re not a fancy team."
As long as it’s struggling to generate pressure, it’s not going to be much of an offensive team either. Buffalo is averaging 21.8 shots on goal, by far the fewest in the league and 4.5 fewer than its NHL-worst average last season.
The Sabres could use more from Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons. They’re tied with Marcus Foligno with a team-high two goals, but combined for one shot against Florida.
Ennis has no points and is a minus-5 in his past three meetings with the Bruins, while Girgensons had three points as a rookie against them last season.