Tonight, we'll bear witness to a battle between two clubs heading in opposite directions: The Ottawa Senators will enter the game on a three-game winning streak, and they're unbeaten in regulation in the last six games, while the Boston Bruins have lost their last two games.
On top of those two straight losses--which were the first time the Bruins had lost two in a row all season--Boston's also starting to feel the sting of the injury bug, as they'll be without Adam McQuaid (their sixth defenceman) for three to four months. They're not going to get much sympathy in that regard from the Senators, though.
Here are the expected lines for the Sens, based on what happened at the morning skate (with a few minor changes for injuries):
For defence, since Lundin wasn't included in the morning skate, this is my best guess for pairings...
As per Bruce Garrioch, Lehner will get the start.
And some game notes:
- Stay-char: Sergei Gonchar's currently on an eight-game point streak, and he's got 13P (1G, 12A) in that span. He's been a huge factor in the Sens' current 4-0-2 streak, and there's a lot of talk about whether he might be re-signed by the Sens. If he keeps playing like this, it wouldn't be a surprise at all.
- Playoff race: It's becoming highly likely that the Senators will make the playoffs and start with a first-round matchup against a Northeast Division team, likely the Montreal Canadiens or these very Bruins (although there's an outside chance they could face the Maple Leafs). Ottawa is currently three points back of Boston for fourth in the East (and home-ice advantage), and the Bruins have two games in hand.
- Injury update: Although Marc Methot won't play tonight, he is "probable" for Saturday night, according to Ian Mendes. Mike Lundin is expected to draw in tonight, but it will be interesting to see who comes out on Saturday between Eric Gryba and Andre Benoit if Methot is indeed back.
- Extra-compressed schedule: On top of McQuaid out for the Boston Bruins, Chris Kelly remains out after his collision with Chris Neil and David Krejci is a game-time decision tonight. After starting the season with a pretty easy workload, the Bruins are being brought to bear injury- and activity-wise.