Gameday Preview: Senators at Bruins

For the second consecutive game, the Senators will be playing their fourth and final game versus an Atlantic Division rival.

Gameday Preview: Senators at Bruins
Ottawa Senators Bobby Ryan, centre, scores the game winning goal on Boston Bruins goaltender Chad Johnson as the Bruins Johnny Boychuk chases him during the third period of their NHL hockey game in Ottawa, Ont., December 28, 2013. (Patrick Doyle / Ottawa Citizen)

Ottawa Senators (26-21-11)
@
Boston Bruins (36-16-4)
TD Garden: 3:00 pm ET
Television: CBC, RDS

Backstory…

For the second consecutive game, the Senators will be playing their fourth and final game versus an Atlantic Division rival.

Having won two of their past three games versus the Bruins, the Senators have the opportunity to do something that they have not done as an organization since the 2005-06 season – and that is finish a season with a winning record versus the Bruins.

Historically, beating the Bruins in Boston has proven to be quite difficult for the Senators. The Senators have only won there twice in their past nine games and in their only appearance at the TD Garden this season, the Bruins blanked the Senators in a convincing 5-0 shutout. Tuukka Rask made 33 saves and Reilly Smith scored two goals on Robin Lehner to pace the Bruins to victory. Brad Marchand, Jarome Iginla and David Krejci added the other goals for the Bruins.

To mitigate the Bruins’ success, the Senators are expected to start Craig Anderson in goal. Anderson has won both of his starts against the Bruins this season. In these games, Anderson has a 2.50 goals against average and a save percentage of .922.

Storylines…

This afternoon’s game marks the last game for each team before the Olympic break, but in the Bruins’ case, they have already been affected by the Games.

Their decision to allow Zdeno Chara to leave the team prematurely to carry the Slovakian flag during the opening ceremonies raised some eyebrows around the league. But, the significance of the honour should not be overlooked, and the Bruins certainly did right by their captain by allowing him to have this once in a lifetime opportunity.

As has been the case for the past few weeks, the Senators will be looking to stay in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Other teams vying for one of the Eastern Conference wild card spot seemingly cannot lose. Carolina, New Jersey and New York all picked up wins last night, so the Senators cannot rely on others to help them claw their way up the Eastern Conference standings.

After beating the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, the Senators will be looking to pick up their third consecutive win and carry this momentum and optimism into the Olympic break.

Fortunately for the Senators, Jason Spezza has is riding a hot streak. The centre, who has been the focus of attention lately because of his struggles to produce at five-on-five this season, has tallied three goals and 13 points in his past 11 games.

With two goals in his past two games, Erik Karlsson will be looking to score goals in three consecutive games for the first time since scoring goals in three games between February 20th through 25th in the 2011-12 season.

There are a few lineup notes to make mention of. Matt Kassian will draw back into the lineup and, because of the Olympic break, the Senators returned Stephane Da Costa to Binghamton to ensure that he could keep playing during the break in the NHL schedule.

Interesting Stat #1

By scoring 10 seconds into the third period of Thursday’s game against Buffalo, Milan Michalek broke the Senators’ record for the fastest goal from the start of a period.

Interesting Stat #2

Milan Michalek’s two-goal performance on Thursday was his first multi-goal performance since he scored a hat trick on March 6, 2012 versus the Tampa Bay Lightning – a span of almost two calendar years.

Ottawa has won its last seven games in which Michalek has scored more than two goals. The last that they did not win was October 7, 2011 versus the Detroit Red Wings.

Interesting Stat #3

The Bruins are 22-6-2 at home season thanks to the strength of their goaltending. Their .938 save percentage at home is the NHL’s highest mark.

What do you think? Leave a comment