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Ottawa is, however unintentionally, becoming Boston’s shadow rival.

At this point it seems like they’re more than divisional rivals: they’re just messing with Boston.

NHL: Boston Bruins at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Ottawa, quite frankly, is a monstrous pain in the ass of the Boston Bruins lately.

Ottawa got off to a rip-roaring start at the beginning of this season and made a lot of people nervous about Boston’s chances of getting into the playoffs or at the very least having a spot closer to the top of the Atlantic Division, where they so rightly deserve to belong. They’re not exactly Canada’s best team (if one can even say Canada has a truly good one at this point), and the fancy numbers and general play of the Sens gave the impression they’re pretty fun but ultimately beatable.

Things have somewhat evened out over time, but not enough.

With both Ontario hockey teams breathing down the neck of the Bruins, one can get the impression that the stakes for every game has been pretty high. And Ottawa likes to be poised to cause fatal damage to the Post-season hopes of the Black and Gold.

Just like the last two years have shown.

In 2014-15, the Sens roared up the standings after years of being kind of mediocre to alright on the hot hand of Andrew Hammond. Boston missed out on the playoffs by just two points. Two points that were stolen by some upstart punks who got their clocks cleaned anyway. That’s pretty annoying.

Next year, Boston struggles all season with defense. They still score a LOT and are markedly better than at least most of the division...until the last 8 games of the season, where a broken, beaten, and slogging team gets knocked out of contention again...by the Ottawa Senators beating them, giving the Flyers the go ahead to take position on them. In their last game of the season. Twice is a coincidence, perhaps. But in it’s full, frustrating glory this year seems to be on that fun little gear called a “Trend”.

Even worse, the Senators have decided this deadline to bring one of the most un-fun humans in the NHL, Alex Burrows, to the Eastern Conference. A person known in New England for biting the star center. Not punching, not checking him...biting him.

And on Patrice Bergeron. The one Bruin a lot of fans outside of Boston tend to know and actually kind of like because he’s not super big on the whole “take penalties” thing. You kind of have to try to get him pissed off. And Burrows is one of the few guys that have that dubious honor.

But all of this could be excused in some way, the playoff misses, the awful human taking up space on their roster, the aggravating strokes of luck, if Ottawa would just throw Boston some points here and there throughout the last couple of years.

Unfortunately, recent trends are turning Ottawa’s way. The only game they’ve played this season was Ottawa taking Boston out in the third period to the tune of 3-1, continually denying or scaring fans and possibly executives alike by the virtue of Boston’s struggling play and theirs just...being okay, for the most part. Even if they routinely got outplayed, leaned on Craig Anderson, or had to win 1-goal games where 11 goals were scored between the two teams in Overtime, sometimes even gifting fellow Atlantic Division teams points that put Boston in a very rough position for stretches.

They’re even annoying to the more fancystats minded, as they typically are in the bottom rung of NHL teams (Currently 21st in CF% overall in the NHL), and they just...keep...winning. They ignore the harsh reality that they may not be as good as advertised while Boston sits atop the board and has struggled mightily. They’re the stoner kid in your class who somehow got good grades in spite of himself while you applied the hell out of yourself and still bombed a test or two. A rock you see wobbling at the edge of a cliff and you beg might go over for some minor entertainment of watching it fall and it just...sits there. wobbling.

And the worst part of it all is that it seems like they’ve done all of this completely on accident. It’s almost like they’ve gone blissfully unaware of just how annoying they actually are. Most Sens fans are just grateful to be in a playoff spot and playing well, completely ignorant to the consternation and paranoia B’s fans have of being flexed out of a playoff spot again by something they did or by beating Boston at the absolute worst possible time.

Tonight’s game should be a statement to these so called “Pesky Sens” that have gone way past “Pesky” and straight into “Obnoxious”. Boston cannot allow themselves to be pushed around any longer by a team that might come back in April to attempt to haunt them. The numbers are on Boston’s side. The players are on Boston’s side. They must make this abundantly clear that they aren’t taking Ottawa’s “Pesky” bull-crap anymore. And that all starts with a win tonight and a win two weeks from now in Ottawa.