After getting fat and happy within the friendly confines of TD Garden, the Bruins tonight get a chance to increase their four-game winning streak on the road.
It will happen in a place -- Ottawa's Canadian Tire Center -- where the Bruins have enjoyed plenty of success over the last five years. They're riding a nine-game streak in Ottawa, dating back to April 7, 2009.
The Senators had climbed the Atlantic Division standings by picking up points in five straight games before getting smoked by the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-0, last Tuesday. That leads the Senators into Friday night’s matchup with the Black and Gold, who have taken 9 points in their last 10 games.
The Sens are looking at this as a measuring game for their team, and Ottawa regulars like Chris Neil have played with plenty of surliness in their game the last few times they’ve faced the Bruins in their own barn. That should make for some pretty good theatre.
“I think they're a type of team that brings out the best in us,” coach Paul MacLean said to reporters. “We anticipate that they're going to be a real good test for us coming off of what happened to us the other night. Playing the Bruins, I think, is a good thing for our emotional level and our intensity level.”
It sounds like it will be a gnarly hockey game for the Bruins, and that will be a challenge for them while getting caught on the second night of a back-to-back after getting pushed to overtime by Columbus on Thursday night.
PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRES PUMPED: Chris Kelly started out strongly this season, but has been a little quiet during the month of November with an assist and three shots on net in six games. The third-line center is clearly defense-first, particularly acting as the third man high in so many situations with offensive-minded guys riding alongside him in Reilly Smith and Carl Soderberg. With the Bruins now rolling on a four-game winning streak it’s not as vital for Kelly to kick in offensively, but the Black and Gold can always use a little more secondary scoring from their third line. Three shots on goal in six games is pretty darned invisible.
DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: “I think when you look at the record, it’s what you wanted; to have a good homestand, and we did. Nine out of 10 points is something certainly to be happy with. Now we have to bring our game on the road and we have three tough road games coming up. So hopefully [Friday] is a good start to it.” – Claude Julien, as the Bruins embark on a three-game road trip through Ottawa, Carolina and New York.
KEY MATCHUP: Many Bruins fans wanted Boston management to chase after Bobby Ryan when it was clear he was going to be dealt by the Anaheim Ducks, but instead the power-forward scoring machine went to the Senators. Ryan had 10 points in a six-game scoring streak that endedt on Tuesday night, but should be a challenging matchup for a Zdeno Chara/Dougie Hamilton defense pairing that’s had some erratic moments together. They need to avoid the communication issues that led to Blake Comeau being left wide open in front of the net for a Blue Jackets goal on Thursday night, and has the B’s captain at a zero plus/minus rating through the first 18 games.
STAT TO WATCH: 9 – the number of consecutive wins for the Boston Bruins against Ottawa in their home barn, which is now called the Canadian Tire Centre rather than Scotiabank Place. Last time the Bruins lost in Ottawa was April 7, 2009 – Marc Savard had two assists and Manny Fernandez was the losing goaltender.
INJURIES: Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid will miss his third straight game with a lower body injury suffered last weekend against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips (undisclosed) will return to the lineup after sitting out Tuesday. Forward Erik Condra (leg) could return Sunday.
GOALTENDING MATCHUP: Tuukka Rask should be well-rested after getting Thursday night off against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and will be back in the saddle against the Senators for the divisional showdown. Rask leads the NHL with a .948 save percentage and is second among league goaltenders with a 1.53 goals-against average while being arguably the best goalie in the league this season.
Craig Anderson gets the start for the Senators despite struggling to start this season, and MacLean declines to use younger netminder Robin Lehner despite a .952 save percentage against the Bruins since the 2011-12 season. Anderson is 0-3-0 with an .860 save percentage against the Black and Gold during that same time span.