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."
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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