It’s all about focusing on the task at hand for the Boston Bruins. It was telling that B’s coach Claude Julien wasn’t asked a single thing about the game vs. the Senators at Friday’s practice with so many people focused on the Winter Olympics, and Friday’s opening ceremonies.
Instead the Bruins will have their final divisional game against the Ottawa Senators, and a final chance to head into the Olympic break with a good feeling while ready to cap off a 7-1-2 stretch with another win at the end of it all. It will be challenging for the Black and Gold after coming up just short in an overtime loss to the Blues without Zdeno Chara on Thursday night, but that game should also give the young B’s defensemen corps some confidence they can get the job done.
“I’m not peeking too far ahead. We’ve got a big job to do [against the Senators],” said Torey Krug. “Looking at the break we sat down with 10 or 11 games left and wanted to play a really good segment, and we have a chance to do that if we can get a win [vs. Ottawa].”
That should be the mindset for everybody in a Black and Gold uniform with a long, replenishing rest ahead for most of them after the game has been completed.
PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRE PUMPED: While Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand have been pretty active for the Black and Gold in the first couple of games in February, Reilly Smith has been a bit silent in the first few games this month. Zero points and only three shots on net in three February games while other players have really stepped up their game. Smith hasn’t been bad by any means. In fairness, pretty much nobody on the Bruins has been bad over the last couple of games, so their tires are pretty close to fully pumped at this point.
DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: “I’m not peeking too far ahead. We’ve got a big job to do [against the Senators]. Looking at the break we sat down with 10 or 11 games left and wanted to play a really good segment, and we have a chance to do that if we can get a win tomorrow.” –Torey Krug with his eyes on the prize against the Senators.
KEY MATCHUP: The Senators are 28th in the NHL while allowing 3.1 goals per game, and the name of the game vs. Ottawa continues to be pounding finesse players like Erik Karlsson when the puck is in their end. It will be about punishing guys like Karlsson, Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza, who are a combined minus-52 this season for the Senators. That should be a doable task for Jarome Iginla, who has 12 points in his last seven games while finishing up strong prior to the Olympic break.
STAT TO WATCH: 5 – the number of Bruins players that will be taking part in the Winter Olympics in Sochi after Saturday’s game: Zdeno Chara, Loui Eriksson, Tuukka Rask, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.
INJURIES: Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg (torn right ACL/MCL) is out for the season, but has started working out on the bike again in his rehab program. Defenseman Adam McQuaid (leg) has missed the past eight games, and won’t return prior to the Olympic break. Zdeno Chara left the team to take part in the Winter Olympics opening ceremonies, and is out for the game.
Ottawa is without veteran defenseman Chris Phillips (lower body) and forward Mark Stone (arm) headed into the final game.
GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: With Tuukka Rask starting each of the last two games, it’s expected that Chad Johnson is going to get the start against the Senators on Saturday afternoon. Johnson is 4-0-0 in his last five appearances for the Bruins with a .939 save percentage, and has truly shined in the role of Rask’s backup as he’s earned more usage over the last couple of months.
Robin Lehner has been given the majority of the starts against the Bruins over the last couple of years, and it remains to be seen if that will be the case on Saturday afternoon. Lehner is 7-10-3 with a 2.76 goals against average and .921 save percentage for the Senators this season.