BOSTON — It wasn’t all that long ago that Patrice Bergeron and Brad Boyes looked destined to be the Bruins’ next version of Cam Neely and Adam Oates.

But then just like that Boyes was traded to St. Louis. While Boyes continued to develop and even scored 43 goals one season, Bergeron has emerged as an Olympian and Selke Trophy candidate after a couple injury-filled years.

Boyes is back in the Northeast Division now, and tonight he’ll face the Bruins for the second time this season but the first time with the Buffalo Sabres. He might wind up on the ice at the same time as Bergeron for a few shifts. Although he knows Bergeron is the enemy, he also has a lot of admiration for what the Bruins center has accomplished.

“He’s doing really well. It’s great to see, “said Boyes about Bergeron after the Sabres’ morning skate at TD Garden. “The things that he’s gone through – the ups and downs, the battles, the injuries that he’s had – it’s good to see him get back to the way he can play, to leading the way that he does. It’s awesome. He’s a guy who’s a quality person and you want good things to happen to him. And things are happening well for him.”

The Sabres now sit eighth in the Eastern Conference and securing a playoff berth seems more likely than it did in Buffalo a month ago or in St. Louis, where the Blues decided to be trade-deadline sellers. Since first suiting up with Buffalo March 1, Boyes has posted 2-2-4 totals in five games. He admits he’s been re-invigorated by the race.

“There is a difference and it’s exciting. In St. Louis, the last couple years, unfortunately, we were out of the playoffs. It’s tougher to play,” said Boyes. “When you get into that mix of getting into the playoffs, getting in that push, it’s exciting. I’m having fun. We’re doing well. We’re not in position to control our fate and if we keep playing well, hopefully good things will happen.”

There should be something of a playoff atmosphere for the Bruins-Sabres rivalry clash tonight, which could keep the good feeling going for Boyes. It might be Bergeron’s job to prevent Boyes from enjoying his latest Boston return.