The Bruins know what it’s like to be a desperate hockey club beset by injuries. During Claude Julien’s first season running the Bruins’ bench they lost Patrice Bergeron in the first month of the season, and then Marc Savard suffered a broken bone in his back down the stretch to the playoffs.
It’s similar to being the wounded animal backed into the corner, and that’s a defensive mechanism that can be effective for a ravaged hockey club.
There were also plenty of injuries in between during the 2007-08 season. Ultimately the Bruins squeaked into the playoffs before losing a seven-game series against the Montreal Canadiens that brought the Black and Gold back into the Boston sports awareness. So the B’s players recognize the desperation and grit that Ottawa is showing while putting together a five-game winning streak despite losing Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson and Milan Michalek to injuries over the last month.
“When you lose keep players…really good players…your best goalie, your best forward and your best defenseman. It’s going to hurt,” said Chris Kelly, who used to play with many of those skaters in Ottawa. “You need to play your system, and give [Ottawa] credit for finding ways to get two points.
“Everyone realizes important guys are out of the lineup and everybody needed to buy in and do more.”
So the Bruins get their first look at the Ottawa Senators this season as they tread water in the Northeast Division. It also gives Boston a chance to give the Sens a slap of reality that they can’t compete in the cream of the crop in the Eastern Conference, and perhaps send them off in a tail spin of self doubt.
It should be interesting to watch as the Bruins and Senators tangle for the first time five weeks into the abbreviated NHL season.
PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: Rich Peverley has gone scoreless in his last four games with a minus-1 rating and only seven shots on net, and hasn’t been able to cash in on a number of really good offensive chances. Breakaways, rushes through the slot with a head of steam and even a few shorthanded bids have resulted in either shots over the crossbar or run-of-the-mill saves by the opposing goaltender. Just as much as Chris Kelly and Chris Bourque need to continue producing on the third line, Peverley needs to shine a bit more as that line’s best offensive player.
DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: “They have an unbelievable goaltending tandem that is so good for them. The last game against Montreal that I watched [Bishop] definitely made a difference. There’s no doubt the other part is that they play a good team game that allows them to win hockey games. We’ve been through that before.” –Bruins coach Claude Julien on how the Senators have survived through injuries like Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson.
KEY MATCHUP: Comes down to the Bruins getting to the Ottawa net and doing some damage against a Senators defense and goaltending corps that’s been superb this season. They’re catching a break that the Senators are sitting down Ben Bishop amidst a four-game winning streak, and will instead be starting Robin Lehner in his first NHL this season. Lehner made 32 saves in a shutout performance one year ago today against the Bruins, so he’s already shown what he can do. So it’s up to the Krejci line and the Bergeron line to do some offensive damage against an Ottawa club that’s giving up only 1.8 goals per game.
STAT TO WATCH: 9-1 – The Bruins’ record in the last 10 games against Ottawa in a match-up they’ve routinely dominated over the years.
INJURIES: Defenseman Peter Regin (upper body) returned to the Senators' lineup Monday and had himself a pretty good game. Milan Michalek skated Thursday morning with no definitive timetable for a return, but is traveling with the team on the road. Defenseman Jared Cowen (hip) and forwards Guillaume Latendresse (whiplash) remain on injured reserve and out indefinitely. Erik Karlsson is done for the season with an Achilles injury and Jason Spezza is out for a prolonged period after back surgery. Marc Savard is expected to miss the season with post-concussion syndrome and his career could be over.
GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Tuukka Rask will be making his fifth straight appearance to start the season, and is coming off a career-high 36 saves against the New York Islanders. For the season Rask is among the league leaders in the NHL with 10 wins along with a 1.89 goals against average and .930 save percentage. While Ben Bishop is riding a four-game winning streak during which he’s put up a 1.50 goals against average, it will be Robin Lehner in net after making 32 saves a year ago today in a 1-0 shutout of the Boston Bruins.