BUFFALO The Bruins control plenty of late season destiny in their hands over the next two games.
Boston wraps up their 11-day, six-game marathon road trip with a showdown against their closest Northeast Division competition in Ottawa on Saturday night, and then host the same Senators hockey club at the TD Garden Tuesday night.
Thats what hockey people like to call a home-and-home series dont you know?
After Bostons 2-1 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night, the Bs find themselves in a situation where they could potentially fall from second all the way to seventh in the Eastern Conference seeding if theyre swept by the Sens.
Ottawa trails the Bruins by three points with Boston holding three important games in hand, and the potential outcome from the two divisional tilts could swing from wildly beneficial to fairly disconcerting from Bostons perspective.
Claude Julien said his hockey club was excited to take on the challenge, and that makes sense after putting together solid back-to-back efforts for the first time in six weeks of unsatisfying hockey. Its finally time to play some games that will hold long-lasting postseason ramifications.
This is where a lot of things are going to be decided here. Whether we make it a tight race or whether we really push them down, said Claude Julien. The games in hand will only be handy if we win those. Weve got a big challenge tomorrow. Theyre waiting for us at home and weve got to travel there. Well be ready for the task.
With Tuukka Rask reclaiming his mojo in the shootout loss to the Sabres, things set up for Tim Thomas to seize the goaltending reigns against a Senators team hes dominated throughout his career.
It will be Thomas first return to the Scotiabank Place setting where he took home his fourth straight All-Star Game victory a month ago. Hes 22-8-2 lifetime against the Senators with a 1.98 goals against average, .937 save percentage and six shutouts in his career.
Meanwhile Ottawas starting goaltender, Craig Anderson, will be out for both games after cutting his hand in a cooking accident with a kitchen knife earlier this week.
The plot thickens with Boston and Ottawa also currently lined up to play each other in the first round of the playoffs if the season ended today, so there should be plenty of motivation from each side on Saturday nightand then again on Tuesday night.
Theres no choice but to play with playoff-style hockey intensity from both sides with home ice advantage and serious playoff seeding on the line, so its time for the real Bruins to stand up.