Preview: Bruins vs Sabres, time, TV, lines, what to know

Boston Bruins hockey is finally back!

After weeks of postponed games and the holiday break, the Bruins will finally hit the ice again today with a matinee matchup with the Buffalo Sabres.

Boston hasn’t played since Dec. 16 when they fell 3-1 to the New York Islanders. The Sabres last opponent was also the Islanders, who they played on Thursday against and lost 4-1.

It will be the third time these two squads have faced each other this season with Boston winning both of those contests.

When: 1 p.m. ET

Where: TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts

TV: NESN

Stream: ESPN+

Bruins projected lines

Marchand-Bergeron-Smith

Hall-Haula-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Coyle-Foligno

Frederic-Nosek-Lazar

Grzelcyk-McAvoy

Reilly-Carlo

Forbort-Clifton

 

Ullmark

Swayman

Sabres projected lines

Peterka-Thompson-Tuch

Skinner-Krebs-Olofsson

Murray-Eakin-Okposo

Bjork-Ruotsalainen-Asplund

 

Dahlin-Jokiharju

Pysyk-Prow

Butcher-Fitzgerald

 

Luukkonen

Subban

The Bruins have split up their top line for the first time this season with everyone healthy. Craig Smith slides up to take David Pastrnak’s spot alongside Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron while Pastrnak will play with Taylor Hall and Erik Haula. Charlie Coyle gets bumped down to the third line center role.

Something has to give with this offense and it seemed like breaking up the first line was the only option. Hall has shown flashes where he can really take a game over – that is, if he’s playing with top players. He’s got good chemistry with Pastrnak and Bruins fans have been calling for the two to stick together on a line.

Smith has experience playing with Bergeron and Marchand and the trio generated a ton of offense last season when they were together. The piece that was surprising to see in this new top-six was Haula. He’s still not the David Krejci solution, but perhaps he can get a spark going that Coyle couldn’t. While Coyle has had a better year this season, there are periods where he’s invisible on the ice, or visible for all the wrong reasons.

The Sabres have Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs in their lineup, two central pieces of the Jack Eichel trade to Vegas. It will be the first time the Bruins have seen Krebs.

Buffalo has played two games since the NHL has started back up again, but there are no excuses. The Bruins need to start a winning streak and need one now. Buffalo is a weaker team, even with the two new pieces.

Great to have Bruins hockey back.