Home-and-home series vs. Ottawa important for B's

675622.jpg

Home-and-home series vs. Ottawa important for B's

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.

WATCH: Bruins' Backes battles with Benn right after opening faceoff

bruins-stars-backes-benn-fight-022617.png

WATCH: Bruins' Backes battles with Benn right after opening faceoff

Now THIS is old-time hockey!

There's bad blood between the Bruins' David Backes and the Stars' Jamie Benn that goes back a long way, most recently in last spring's Dallas-St. Louis playoff series when Backes was still with the Blues. They met again today -- and the ungodly (hockey) hour of 11:30 a.m. Dallas time -- for a nationally televised game between Backes' new team, the Bruins, and the Stars.

And it didn't take long for the two to renew acquaintances . . .

Pistons to honor Hamilton, who had impact on several Celtics

Pistons to honor Hamilton, who had impact on several Celtics

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The Detroit Pistons will retire the jersey number of former UConn star Rip Hamilton tonight, an instrumental figure in the Pistons’ success in the early 2000s that included an NBA title in 2004.
 
Although Hamilton never played for Boston, his impact can be felt within the Celtics locker room.
 
Boston’s Amir Johnson spent his first four NBA seasons as a teammate of Hamilton's in Detroit.
 
In that time, Johnson acknowledges how many of the positive things folks associate with him come from lessons he learned from Hamilton.
 
“He was so relentless when he ran,” Johnson told CSNNE.com. “I remember working out with him one summer. For him to even get his shot off, he sprints full court, goes back down shooting shots, and he just kept doing this over and over and over again, full court sprinting . . . To see that as a young kid, and at his age, just working hard like that, it was great to see.”
 
James Young grew up in nearby Rochester Hills, Mich., so he watched Hamilton’s scoring prowess up close and personal.
 
And as he continued to evolve as a player, Young would see Hamilton during the summer months while attending Hamilton’s basketball camps.
 
“I was there every year, won MVP a few times,” Young told CSNNE.com. “He’s a great guy, a great player.”
 
And, like Hamilton, Young has a lanky frame for an NBA player, which was among the many reasons Young acknowledged Hamilton as being one of his first significant basketball influences as a youth.
 
“For sure,” Young said. “His mid-range game was crazy, great shooter. He was always consistent.”
 
And that consistency has paid off in the highest honor an NBA franchise can bestow upon a player.
 
“That’s big time,” Johnson said. “He’s a champion, great father, great baller. To have his jersey retired is an honor. To see the success he had in the league, and to see his jersey retired with the greats, it's definitely an honor. I’m glad I’ll be there to see that. Kudos to him. He’s a hard worker. Had a great career. I had my high school jersey retired, but to get your NBA jersey retired, that’s great.”
 
Hamilton played 14 seasons in the NBA, nine of which were with the Pistons. A career 17.1 points per game score, he averaged 18.4 with Detroit and was named an Eastern Conference All-Star three times (2006-2008).
 
Although he is known as one of the greatest mid-range shooters of his era, Hamilton began to expand his range over time. During the 2005-06 season, Hamilton shot 45.8 percent from 3-point range (most of them being corner 3’s), which led the NBA that season.