After a combined 22 games, the Boston Bruins
and Ottawa Senators
have one thing in common: neither team has lost in overtime. But that's where the similarities end.
The Senators' seven wins in 12 games are more than double the Bruins' three in 10. Their 36 goals are third in the league, while the Bruins' 21 put them in a tie for 26th. Meanwhile, the Bruins have allowed just 23 goals in their ten games (12th in the NHL), but Ottawa has let 45 goals past, far and away good for last in the league.
It's a game and a team that may allow Boston its best chance at getting back in the winning column since...well, the last time they were in the win column, putting up a six-spot in a win over Toronto ten days ago.
The Senators, however, aren't holding back. They're a young team, with many players on the roster having been a part of last year's Calder Cup Champion Binghamton squad, who "play with a lot of energy," according to Bruins coach Claude Julien.
Boston's task in this one will be to find a way to match that, possess the puck down low and make Ottawa backcheck, something the Senators have struggled to do throughout the season.
Their other challenge? To show restraint.
"Teams will not engage with us right now because they're being told 'they feed off that' so we've seen that. Right now, the minute we retaliate, we're being penalized for that stuff so we have to be smarter...right now, we're the frustrated team instead of playing our game and frustrating other teams."
With Chris Neil
in the lineup for Ottawa, it's hard to believe that physical play won't be a factor, but that doesn't mean that it's going to come down to a fight - despite being second in the NHL in penalty minutes, Neil has scored goals in each of his last two games.
The Senators come in to Boston playing their third game in four nights, so it will again be crucial for the Bruins to put their foot to their opponent's throat early on, which is something they've demonstrated a serious inability to do thus far. If they can do that, their defense should be able to hold off Ottawa's attack to skate away with two points. If they can't, it could be another long night on Causeway Street.
The game is a homecoming for Ottawa's Bobby Butler
, who hails from Marlborough and attended UNH. Butler said that he's expecting 30 friends and family members for the game, and that while they'll be wearing Black and Gold, they'll have his number and name on their jerseys. It's also the second time that Merrimack product Stephane Da Costa
has returned to TD Garden since leaving the Warriors after his sophomore year last season.