Boston Bruins: Home-and-home with Buffalo a chance to widen Atlantic gap

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 21: Boston Bruins right wing Anders Bjork (10) tries to set up in front of Buffalo Sabres defenseman Henri Jokiharju (10) and Buffalo Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark (35) during a game between the Boston Bruins and the Buffalo Sabres on November 21, 2019, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 21: Boston Bruins right wing Anders Bjork (10) tries to set up in front of Buffalo Sabres defenseman Henri Jokiharju (10) and Buffalo Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark (35) during a game between the Boston Bruins and the Buffalo Sabres on November 21, 2019, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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Two straight games against the Buffalo Sabres give the Boston Bruins a chance to increase the Atlantic Division lead.

The Boston Bruins come back from the holiday break with a home-and-home with the Buffalo Sabres. These two games give Boston a great chance to widen its gap in the Atlantic Division standings.

Currently, the Bruins lead the Atlantic with 53 points. For a big chunk of the season, Buffalo occupied that second spot.

Buffalo, however, recently dropped back to fifth place in the division after a few losses. With 41 points, the Sabres now trail Toronto, Montreal, and Florida in addition to Boston.

This is about where most people expected Buffalo to finish this year. The Sabres have some young talent and one or two stars, but they don’t quite have enough to contend with top Atlantic teams like Boston and Toronto.

Even with all that said, nobody can deny that Buffalo exceeded expectations for the most part this year. Jack Eichel is in the midst of his best season, and he started to gain some attention as an MVP candidate. Linemate Victor Olofsson is one of the Calder front runners.

As such, the home-and-home with Buffalo gives the Bruins a great opportunity to really separate themselves from the Sabres in the standings. With two straight wins, the Bruins can put 16 points between them and Buffalo. That’s probably too much for the Sabres to overcome.

Two wins can increase the Atlantic lead over Toronto

At the same time, two wins against the Sabres can help Boston maintain and even increase its lead over Toronto.

The Maple Leafs had a tough start to the season, so much so that they fell out of the playoff picture. However, the season started to turn around after the team fired coach Mike Babcock.

Top players like Auston Matthews look invigorated with a new coach, and this helped Toronto climb its way back into the Atlantic Division standings. Now, with a little over half the season remaining, Toronto is nine points behind Boston.

Nine points isn’t enough to worry the Bruins yet, but it isn’t insurmountable either. Boston must continue its strong play to maintain its division lead down the stretch. Based on the last two seasons, we know how important home-ice advantage in the playoffs is and will be against Toronto.

Next. Homestand a missed opportunity. dark

These next two games present Boston with a great chance to increase its lead over Atlantic rivals like Buffalo and Toronto. We’ll see how it all starts to unfold Friday night in Buffalo.