KANATA, ON -- It’s not typical sportswriting hyperbole to say the Bruins own the Senators in their own barn.
The B's are a sterling 8-1-2 on the road this season, and have won nine straight in Ottawa at Scotiabank Place since April 7, 2009. The streak is tied for the league's longest active against any opponent (the Anaheim Ducks have won nine in a row at Rexall Place against the Edmonton Oilers). A 10th consecutive road win for the Bruins would match the fifth-longest streak in NHL history against one team.
Previously it had always been about Tim Thomas dominating the Senators and getting into their heads, but now it’s about more than as the Black and Gold found new and excruciating ways to beat down the Senators.
It got to the point that it really appeared to these eyes that Ottawa was looking to lose a late regular season game against the Bruins last season just to make certain they didn’t see them in the first round of the playoffs.
That is intimidation at its highest form.
Chris Kelly used to be a member of the Senators for many of those ritualistic beatings, and he didn’t enjoy them one bit. Perhaps it has something to do with Zdeno Chara continuing to prove a point to the Senators ownership that let him walk away via free agency seven years ago. But either way the Bruins captain still enjoys returning to visit the Ottawa setting where his NHL career really got its start after then-Isles GM Mike Milbury essentially traded away the league’s most intimidating defensive force for a broken down Russian player and a bag of shiny new hockey pucks.
“What can I say? [Ottawa] was a great place to play," Chara said. "I enjoy this league. It’s a very humbling game. I try to work extremely hard every game. Every time I step on the ice I try to do the best I can and work extremely hard. Every time I come back I bring some memories back. But we all had to move on. Things do happen in hockey and they did for me.”
Chara and the Bruins have been seemingly bringing bad memories to the Senators for four years and counting as they take the ice Monday night, and they plan on continuing to do the same.
DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: “It’s always exciting to play an old team. Obviously I have friends on that team and it’s a divisional game for us. So that’s an easy one to get up for. If you start looking toward Pittsburgh (game tomorrow night) then it will be a long night in Ottawa.” – Chris Kelly, overflowing with excitement to head back to Ottawa for another domination of his old Senators team.
KEY MATCHUP: The Senators power play has been struggling to the tune of a 2-for-23 stretch in their last seven games at Scotiabank Place, and it doesn’t appear that it will be getting any better against the Bruins top-ranked penalty-kill unit. The Sens are missing so much offensive firepower with Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza and potentially Milan Michalek out of the lineup that it’s going to be incredibly difficult to score for an undermanned Ottawa bunch. So if they can’t get it going on the PP then it could be a long night for Daniel Alfredsson and a bunch of scrappy Binghamton Senators suiting up against the Black and Gold.
STAT TO WATCH: 1 – That's the number of minus games for Tyler Seguin in 22 total games played this season in what’s turning out to be another standout campaign for the 21-year-old.
INJURIES: The Bruins are relatively healthy, though David Krejci had to leave the bench during the second and third period of Saturday’s win over the Flyers with what appeared to be an upper body issue. Krejci is expected to play Monday night. Ottawa forward Dave Dziurzynski (concussion) is out indefinitely. Goalie Craig Anderson (ankle), defensemen Jared Cowen (hip), Mike Lundin (concussion) and Erik Karlsson (Achilles) and forwards Jason Spezza (back), Guillaume Latendresse (whiplash) and Peter Regin (upper body) are on injured reserve. Milan Michalek also appeared to have some kind of setback during morning skate with the lower body issue he’s been dealing with as well.
GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Tuukka Rask is coming off his second shutout of the season over the weekend against the Flyers, and was the first goalie off the Scotiabank Place ice for morning skate normally denoting the starting assignment. Rask is among the top five goalies in the NHL in wins (12), GAA (1.97) and save percentage (.927) this season, and can count the bad goals he’s given up this season on one hand. Robin Lehner made his first start of the 2013 NHL season against the Bruins a couple of weeks ago and hasn’t been handed a regulation loss while putting together a 1-0-2 record, .948 save percentage and 1.90 goals against average over that four-game period. The Senators truly have an embarrassment of riches among their goalies.