The Ottawa Senators play the first of five consecutive games on the road when they visit the Bruins in Boston tonight. Due to many road games, a sparse schedule and a cancelled home game, the Bruins haven't won at home since 29 January, however that home losing streak is standing at two games. The Buffalo Sabres remain the only team in the NHL to beat the Bruins in regulation, accomplishing the feat twice.
There you have it, the Bruins are a pretty good team. The Senators however, have won five consecutive games. The last four have been at home and Ottawa will find things much more difficult on the road.
Kaspars Daugavins appears to be the healthy scratch. Here are the lines for tonight's game from Sylvain St-Laurent.
Silfverberg - Turris - Alfredsson
Greening - Zibanejad - Condra
Dziurzynski - Smith - Neil
Grant - Regin - O'Brien
Méthot - Gryba
Wiercioch - Gonchar
Phillips - Benoît
And some notes for tonight:
- The big one is that Robin Lehner will get the start. He has stopped 93.8% of shots in the AHL this season, but it will be the first game in the NHL this season. Lehner stopped 93.5% of shots in five NHL starts last season. It is going to be tough for him tonight, with a road game against the third best possession team in the NHL this season. The Bruins are third in the NHL with 31.9 shots per game.
- Ottawa is one place ahead of Boston though, with 32.4 shots/game. In the 14 games with Erik Karlsson, the Senators outshot the opposition on average by a 33-31 margin. In the six games since Karlsson's injury, the Senators have been outshot 34-31, a swing of 5 shots/game or worth about half a goal per game. The goaltending has been outstanding and offset any drop in play.
- Peter Regin had a good game against the Habs and hopefully he can build on that. Or at least stay healthy.
- Kyle Turris however had a forgettable game, including a penalty in overtime that negated a 4-on-3 power play and instead put the Senators on the penalty kill. His streak without a goal is now at 16 games and has just two assists in the last nine games.
- Chris Neil also had another poor game, picking up a stupid penalty late in the game. His decision making has been very questionable in the last few games.
- The Senators have managed to put together a nice win streak, but they are going to be severely tested tonight on the road. Paul MacLean will not be able to use his banged up roster in the situations that he wants. For a roster as depleted as Ottawa's, a road game in Boston has the potential to be a nightmare.
Cornelius: The Post Tim Thomas Era has us relying heavily on Rask, though Khudobin is holding his own in games. They remind me more of Thomas/Fernandez than Thomas/Rask. Khudobin is doing...okay. There's a reason he hasn't played as much, but I'm looking for him to play a bit more what with the whole death March thing we just started on. We've got 3 games in the next 4 days and I don't know if we really want to hang Khudobin out to dry against the Stamkos Snipe Show so I wouldn't be surprised, as I write this at 9:52 am, if Anton gets the start tonight. This begins the wonderful journey of Tim Thomas from guy-Haggerty-can't-stop-asking-insulting-questions-to to one-of-our-greatest-goalies-ever and Triple Crown Timmy rather than Facebook Timmy. Or at least, that's what should happen. We're not responsible for his cap hit anymore so whatever. (I STILL LOVE YOU THOMAS COME HOME AND WIN ANOTHER CUP PLEASE)
Peter: How has your team played so few games at this point in the season, and are you fearing any stretch-run fatigue as your schedule becomes super-compressed?
Cornelius: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. The Bruins play tonight and then 17 games in March and 14 in April. There is only one instance left in the rest of the season where the Bruins get back-to-back days off. The upside is that the Bruins spent most of February on the road, so they play 8 at home (9 on the road) in March and 9 at home (5 on the road) in April. This team isn't as deep as the one that won the cup (Michael Ryder is a heck of a lot better than Chris Bourque, for example.) But if they can stay healthy we're in for a good season. That is the thing that scares every Bruins fan before they fall asleep at night, though. Lack of depth. Our local historian Erin Cozens wrote a good piece just a couple days ago about the 1976-77 Bruins team, which got off to a similarly insane start but also had questionable depth. That team...didn't win the cup. Which is the expectation and goal of the Bruins this year, especially with the cap dropping and the need to re-sign some people.
Peter: Any notable rookies on your roster?
Cornelius: We have the progeny of Ray Bourque. We also have who we hope is the spiritual successor to Ray Bourque. Chris Bourque isn't really a rookie, but he's an AHL superstar that hasn't impressed as much as we'd all like, especially considering his bloodline. We are all much much much more excited by number 27, from Toronto by way of youuuuuurrrrrrr Niagara Ice Dogs, DOUGIE HAMMMMMMILTON!!! Oh man, he is so good. Like, incredible good. Not only do I get a feeling of calm and hope when the puck gets on his stick, but every single one of his teammates seems to be pretty impressed with his game. There is rarely a day that goes by that I don't thank Winnipeg for going off the board with their pick. And then laugh at them, because lol Winnipeg is the worst. Oh, Lane MacDermid played a few games as well and is pretty cool I guess. He's great at punching. But he's no Dougie Ham.
One time Dougie had his first multi-point game and it was at home and they played "Teach Me How To Dougie" on the PA near the end of the game. Then they put Dougie on the jumbotron. And he did the Dougie. I nearly died and went to heaven that day. We are truly blessed.