Bruins Must Be Wary of Struggling Senators as They Commence Roadtrip

Bruins Must Be Wary of Struggling Senators as They Commence Roadtrip After an emotional win over Phil Kessel and the Maple Leafs on Thursday, the Bruins could be in danger of a letdown as they open a three-game road trip in Ottawa on Saturday night against a Senators team that has struggled in the early going this season.

They could be in danger if it wasn't for the constant reminders coach Claude Julien has driven home to never take an opponent for granted.

"I've got my philosophy, and it's that every game should be viewed as a game where you go in and you play hard and the team that you play against can beat you if you're not ready," said Julien after Friday's practice. "It's as simple as that. You see it around the league. That's why teams win or lose, and when we talk about parity, it speaks for itself. Everybody is pretty close to each other in this league and it is just a matter of sometimes you're on your highs and sometimes you're on your lows. To me, you should never put your guard down."

The Senators might have been a tempting target to take lightly until this week, but after some cajoling from head coach Cory Clouston and general manager Bryan Murray, Ottawa responded with a pair of impressive wins this week. The Senators had scored just 16 goals in their first eight games, but exploded for 10 in the last two, beating Phoenix 5-2 on Tuesday and Florida 5-3 on Thursday.

"Whatever's happened to them [with their] coach and GM calling them out, all I know is that they've won their last two games and they've played pretty well," said Julien. "So it's another game that we have to be ready to play tomorrow. We just have to be ready and worry about ourselves and how we approach that game. It's our job as coaches to prepare our team adequately."

When and Where

Boston Bruins (5-2-0, 10 points) at Ottawa Senators (4-5-1, 9 points)
Oct. 28, 7 p.m. (NESN)
Scotiabank Place, Ottawa, Ontario

Head to Head

This is the first of six meetings this season between the Northeast Division rivals. The Bruins went 4-2-0 against the Senators last year and lead the all-time series 55-30-8-7, including a 25-15-3-6 mark in Ottawa.

Goaltending Matchup

Tim Thomas continued his spectacular start to the season with a 20-save shutout of Toronto on Thursday. He's now 5-0-0 with a 0.60 GAA and a .981 save percentage, and he's had plenty of success against the Senators, going 16-7-2 with a 2.10 GAA and a .932 save percentage. He has four shutouts against Ottawa, the most he's had against any team. Tuukka Rask hasn't gotten off to as strong a start at 0-2-0, 3.54 GAA and .894 save percentage. His only appearance against Ottawa came in relief of Thomas on Jan. 18 last season, when he allowed two goals on 17 shots in 30 minutes in a 5-1 loss.

For the Senators, Brian Elliott has taken over as the No. 1 goalie with Pascal Leclaire injured. Elliott is 4-3-0 with a 3.29 GAA and a .900 save percentage, and is 2-2-3 with a 2.64 GAA and a .911 save percentage against Boston in his career. Robin Lehner has been brought up to serve as the backup. He's appeared in two games in relief, stopping all 10 shots he's faced in 34 minutes.

Stat Sheet

Bruins

  • Dennis Seidenberg led all players with six blocked shots against Toronto on Thursday. That was a season high for Seidenberg, who had just one block in the previous two games. But it more like his usual self, as he led the entire NHL with 215 blocked shots last season.
  • The Bruins' fourth line has done an excellent job of providing energy for the Bruins all season, and the club's hit stats bear that out. That unit has the most hits of any Bruins line despite playing the least minutes. Shawn Thornton leads the team with 21 hits, while Greg Campbell has 14 and Brad Marchand eight for a combined 43. The top line is closest with 36, though half of those come from Milan Lucic's 18.
  • Nathan Horton had his six-game point-streak snapped on Thursday, his first game as a Bruin without a goal or assist. But Horton still made it onto the scoresheet, picking up his first fighting major with Boston and a 10-minute misconduct as well with a bout against Dion Phaneuf. Horton still leads the Bruins with 5-4-9 totals in seven games.

Maple Leafs

  • Daniel Alfredsson, who leads Ottawa with 6-6-12 totals, reached the 1,000-point milestone with a hat trick in Buffalo on Oct. 22. He now has 381-623-1,004 totals in 1,012 games. Much of that damage has come against the Bruins, with 22-40-62 totals in 73 games against Boston.
  • Alex Kovalev would like join the 1,000-point club as well, as he's just five points shy at 415-580-995 in 1,238 games. He has 34-33-67 totals in 80 games against Boston, but just 3-2-5 totals in 10 games so far this year.
  • The Senators' major move this offseason was signing defenseman Sergei Gonchar to a three-year, $16.5-million deal to quarterback their power play. So far the returns have been modest, as Ottawa is just 6 of 37 on the man-advantage (16.2 percent) and Gonchar has no goals and six assists and is a team-worst minus-5 through 10 games.

Infirmary Report

Bruins

  • Defenseman Johnny Boychuk suffered a fracture in his left forearm on Saturday and is expected to miss four weeks.
  • Center Marc Savard (post-concussion syndrome) is out indefinitely.
  • Left wing Marco Sturm (knee surgery) is expected to be out until at least November.
  • Center Trent Whitfield (ruptures Achilles) could miss the entire year.

Senators

  • Center Jason Spezza (groin) has missed the last four games, but is probable for Saturday.
  • Goalie Pascal Leclaire (groin) is out indefinitely.
  • Defenseman Filip Kuba (broken leg) is out until November.

Familiar Faces

Gonchar played briefly in Boston after being acquired from the Capitals at the trade deadline in 2004. Forward Ryan Shannon hails from Darien, Conn. The Bruins have plenty of ties to the Senators organization, with general manager Peter Chiarelli serving as Ottawa's assistant GM before coming to Boston, captain Zdeno Chara playing four seasons on the Senators' blue line and tough guy Brian McGrattan, who was sent to Providence on a conditioning assignment this weekend, also playing three seasons in Ottawa.

Fight Card

The Senators have had seven fights in 10 games, led by Matt Carkner's four. Chris Neil has two fighting majors, while Mike Fisher and Jarkko Ruutu each have one. The Bruins maintained their one fight a game average with Horton's fight. They now have seven fighting majors through seven games, with Lucic and Campbell leading the way with two, while Thornton and Mark Stuart each have one. Last year, the six games between the division rivals produced four fights, including two heavyweight bouts between Thornton and Carkner, who also had a preseason scrap last year.

Outlook

The Bruins bounced back from Saturday's loss to the Rangers with an impressive showing against the Leafs on Thursday. There was no shortage of emotion going into that game with Kessel's latest return to the Garden drawing the wrath of a sold-out Garden. Now the Bruins will have to avoid a letup as they hit the road for a matchup with a Senators squad starting to show some signs of life with back-to-back wins, and Ottawa could be further bolstered with the return of Spezza.

Yardbarker

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 186,213 other followers