The good and loyal hockey fans of Buffalo have been very patient. They haven't had much choice.

The Sabres, who face the Bruins tonight at the Garden, missed the playoffs last spring for the third time in five seasons. The two times they did finish in the top eight in the Eastern Conference during that span, they failed to get out of the first round of the postseason.

The team reached the playoffs only four times in the past decade and, of course, the total number of Stanley Cups won by the Sabres since the franchise's inception in 1970 — not counting the one they won in "Bruce Almighty" — is zero.

A recent low point for the Sabres and their faithful came Nov. 12, 2011, when Bruins winger Milan Lucic turned Ryan Miller into road kill, crashing into Buffalo's franchise goalie when he skated out to the circle to play a puck. The response of Miller's teammates wasn't much beyond a little tepid pushing and shoving.

The Sabres went into that game 10-5-0. Their loss to the B's started a 7-12-4 downturn, and they went on to miss the final playoff slot by just three points.

So with all that as a backdrop, it wasn't terribly surprising during the summer when the Sabres acquired center Steve Ott from Dallas and picked up winger John Scott in free agency. Lest anyone is not familiar with these two gentlemen, Ott is one of the most notorious rats and cheap-shot artists in the league, and Scott is a 6-foot-8, 270-pound Goliath who in 152 career NHL games has one goal, four assists and 241 penalty minutes.

It almost goes without saying that when longtime Sabres general manager Darcy Regier and coach Lindy Ruff added these two players, they were thinking about their impact against the Bruins.