WILMINGTON, Mass. — Considering the fact that they are mired in a three-game losing streak and have just three wins in their first 10 games of the season, about the last thing the Bruins should want to see next on their schedule is a matchup with arguably the hottest team in the NHL.
That's just what the Bruins have with Ottawa coming to Boston on Tuesday riding a six-game winning streak, and the Bruins are actually eager for the challenge.
"Ottawa is playing well and you have to give them credit," Bruins center Gregory Campbell said. "Nobody expected them to [be doing this well]. They are competing hard and they have a bunch of young guys and some talented players and a good goaltender. I think it's a good challenge for us. They're going to force us to compete hard and we're going to have to match their intensity level. When there is something like this, I think it's actually good to be playing a hot team and a team that's going to test us and make sure we're on top of our game."
The Bruins haven't exactly been at the top of their game through the first month of the season, but they have had plenty of success against Ottawa in recent years. Boston is 14-4-0 against the Senators in the last three seasons, including a 5-1-0 mark last year when the Bruins outscored them 18-5.
But the Senators are a different team this season under first-year coach Paul MacLean, and the Bruins have looked like a much different team as well as they've struggled against just about every opponent.
"I would have to say that every team we've played so far has given us a good challenge just by the results," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "It's really about our team finding its way. We're struggling right now as a team, and that's the biggest issue that we're trying to fix."
The Bruins have lacked discipline of late as the frustrations have mounted, and that could be costly against Ottawa. The Senators are tops in the NHL on the power play, converting at a 31-percent clip (13 for 42). They're even better on the road (6-17, 35.3 percent), though Ottawa's penalty kill (29th in league at 71.9 percent) might be able to get even the Bruins anemic power play (25th, 12.8 percent) a chance to do some damage as well.
Ottawa has actually allowed more goals (45) than it has scored (39) this season despite its 7-5-0 record, so there could be hope for a Bruins offense that has managed just 22 goals in 10 games. Still, even if Boston can finally break through offensively, the Bruins will also have to stop Ottawa's top guns. Jason Spezza is tied for second in the NHL with 7-8-15 totals through 12 games, while Milan Michalek is tied for seventh at 7-6-13. Erik Karlsson also has 13 points, putting him first among all defensemen in the NHL.
"Ottawa has six wins in a row and obviously they've been beating some pretty good teams as of late," Bruins forward Milan Lucic said. "They're definitely a team we can't take lightly. Everyone has stepped up on that team, especially Michalek and Spezza, so it's going to be another challenge for us."
It's a challenge the Bruins claim they welcome, though, which might just be a good sign that their confidence is returning and they could finally be ready to snap out of their early-season skid.