TORONTO - The Bruins-Sabres series, which gets underway Thursday night at HSBC Arena, features the two best save percentage leaders in the NHL, Tuukka Rask of Boston and Ryan Miller of Buffalo.
But as great as the stoppers are, they both tip their masks to their respective behemoth blueliners, Zdeno Chara and Tyler Myers. Both defenceman see the most ice time on their clubs, between 24 and 26 minutes a night, and are heavily engaged in blocking shots and special teams.
Chara, who is 13 years Myersí senior, has worked on his gangly skating to the point where he sometimes looks like a black and gold locomotive. Myers has discovered his offensive touch at a younger age than the Slovak, with 48 points. But Chara has had at least 44 the past three seasons.
Chara has more beef and is more apt to step into scrums to settle matters, but Myersí reach and wing span will come in handy in clearing the slot, too. Myers will be a Calder Trophy finalist.
The workhorse Chara recently played more than half the game against the Maple Leafs when two Bruins defenders went down, but heíll be getting some assistance just in time for this series. Andrew Ference, scratched for the final nine games with a hernia, expects to return. Dennis Seidenberg (arm laceration) and Mark Stuart (finger) are still out.
The Sabres will be getting No. 2 scorer Tim Connolly back from a foot injury for Game 1, but centre Jochen Hecht (finger) is questionable and winger Drew Stafford (concussion) is skating, but canít be involved in contact drills.