The Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres get the “Rivalry Night” treatment on NBC Sports Network this week, both on the “NHL Rivals” series airing on Tuesday night and then on Wednesday night when the Bruins visit the Sabres for an Atlantic Division matchup.
Mike Milbury, who took part in this rivalry both as a player and as a coach, opines in the following clip that the Bruins and Sabres might be one of the NHL’s most underrated rivalries.
It’s certainly a rivalry whose dynamic has changed over time, as the nightly fisticuffs – Lindy Ruff said the battles were about “ looking over there and seeing which guys you'd have to worry about beating the crap out of you” – have become much more infrequent.
The Bruins have had bigger fish to fry in recent years. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens are more intense division rivals; the Philadelphia Flyers are a more intense conference rival; one could argue the lingering animosity with the Vancouver Canucks makes them a more intense rival too, given the infrequency of their meetings.
From a Sabres perspective, Sabres Noise ran a poll in September asking of the Leafs – Buffalo’s geographic enemy – were a bigger rival than the Bruins. The sample size notwithstanding, the Leafs won out by 13 percentage points.
Is it an underrated rivalry? Perhaps. The Lucic/Miller collision showed that all this rivalry needs is something to light the fuse or pick the old scab.
With the Sabres looking for anything that’ll spark their season, maybe that changes on Wednesday night.