First things first: Happy 20th Birthday to Tyler Seguin
Second things second: Happy Second Half of the season to everyone else.
With the Bruins back from their extended all-star break, it's time to talk about hockey again. Not media mudslinging rivalries, not overdone political discussions and certainly not Daniel Alfredsson's hat trick in the All-Sta- oh, right.
Surprising Ottawa makes just their second trip to Boston this season, and it's the first time that the Bruins and Senators have seen each other since Ottawa served as the launching pad for Boston's filthy late-2011 run that saw them lose just three games in regulation in the final two months of the year.
Surprising is a relative term when it comes to the Senators, of course, because Ottawa - despite being second in the Northeast and fifth overall in the Eastern Conference - has played more games (52) than anyone else in the NHL.
The Senators' 1.15 points per game trend is a far cry from Boston's 1.36 points per game, and their -3 goal differential suggests that the Senators are due for a fall from grace in the coming weeks. Whether or not it happens remains to be seen.
Nathan Horton is out of the Boston lineup for at least two more games as he continues to battle back from a mild concussion, and Rich Peverley will likely skate in his spot on the right of David Krejci. Boston will also be without the services of Andrew Ference, whose three-game suspension for charging the New York Rangers Ryan McDonagh turned into a two-week long vacation with the break.
In all likelihood, the Bruins will start Tim Thomas after a strong third-period performance in the All-Star Game that saw the all-world goaltender deny numerous Alfredsson bids at a hat trick in the waning minutes.