Bruins, Senators Set to Battle For First in Northeast Division

by

November 28, 2009

Bruins, Senators Set to Battle For First in Northeast Division The Bruins and Senators square off Saturday night at the TD Garden for sole possession of first place in the Northeast Division.

The Bruins come in on the heels of a 2-1 shootout loss to New Jersey Friday but they are 4-1-1 in their last six games and 6-1-3 and their last ten. Meanwhile, the Senators beat Columbus 2-1 on Thanksgiving and have won five of their last six games and are 6-3-1 in their last ten contests.

When And Where

Saturday, Nov. 28, 7 p.m. (NESN)
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.

Records

Bruins (12-8-5, 29 points, second place in Northeast Division, fifth place in Eastern Conference)
Senators (13-7-3, 29 points, first place in Northeast Division, third in Eastern Conference)

Head to Head

This is the second of six meetings between the two Northeast Division rivals. The Senators and Bruins will meet again on Dec. 21 and on Jan. 5 at Ottawa, then on Jan. 18 and 23 in Boston.

The Bruins are 1-0-0 against Ottawa this season, and that win was their most dramatic of the season. On Oct. 24, they erased a two-goal deficit with 1:28 remaining in regulation and won on a Patrice Bergeron shootout goal. The B’s tied it in regulation on goals by Mark Recchi and David Krejci.

Blake Wheeler also scored for the Bruins, while Tim Thomas made 27 saves to improve to 15-8-0-2 against Ottawa.

Boston leads the lifetime series 52-28-8-7.

Skinny

The Bruins have beat the Senators five straight times at the TD Garden and have won ten of the last twelve meetings overall. The Bruins have outscored the Senators 21-8 in their five straight home wins since a 3-2 loss on Dec. 18, 2007.

The last time the Bruins lost a regulation game, Claude Julien was not shy in calling his team out after a lackluster effort in a 4-1 loss to the Islanders. But after yesterday?s defeat, he wasn?t shy to credit his squad with a solid effort against one of the Eastern Conference?s elite in the Devils.

?I think they know that [the team played well, and the individuals decided it in a shootout] for the most part,? Julien said. ?They know how we feel. They also know how they play. If we were to play a terrible game and lose in a shootout, we might say we did not deserve it anyways. I think there are times when you say, ?listen, it is what it is.?

The Senators are also feeling good about themselves after their 2-1 win over Columbus Thursday sent them out on their five-game road trip with some confidence.

?It gives us a lot of confidence going into the road trip,? head coach Corey Clouston said. ?Guys are stepping up into bigger roles and are doing a real good job,? he said.

But they also realize the road won?t be easy and they will need to bring a consistent effort.

“This is a big part of our season here. These are not easy teams we’re playing and we’re not too familiar with them, so if we can come out of this above .500 on the trip, we’ll be setting ourselves up pretty good,” center Jason Spezza told the Canadian Press.

Projected Lineups

Bruins
Forwards
Blake Wheeler–Marc Savard–Byron Bitz
Marco Sturm–Patrice Bergeron–Mark Recchi
Vladimir Sobotka–David Krejci–Michael Ryder
Shawn Thornton–Steve Begin–Daniel Paille

Defensemen
Zdeno Chara–Derek Morris
Andrew Ference–Dennis Wideman
Mark Stuart–Matt Hunwick

Goaltenders
Tuukka Rask
Tim Thomas

Senators
Forwards
Milan Michalek–Jason Spezza–Daniel Alfredsson
Nick Foligno–Peter Regin–Alex Kovalev
Jarkko Ruutu–Chris Kelly–Jonathan Cheechoo
Ryan Shannon–Jesse Winchester–Ryan Keller

Defense
Chris Phillips–Filip Kuba
Alexander Picard–Chris Campoli 
Matt Carkner–Erik Karlsson

Goalies
Brian Elliot
Mike Brodeur

Goaltender Matchup


Bruins  
Tim Thomas
is 5-6-3 with a 2.33 GAA and a .918 save percentage. Thomas has three shutouts this season but has missed the last five games, his last start coming on Nov. 14 in Pittsburgh. The Bruins lost that game 6-5 in overtime and it is believed he suffered his ?minor upper-body injury? that night.

Tuukka Rask has started the last five games for the Bruins, the longest string of starts in his NHL career. Rask won four straight prior to Friday’s shootout loss to the Devils and has a 1.75 goals against average with a .942 save percentage during that span. His overall record is 7-2-1 with a 2.13 GAA and a .924 save percentage.
 
Senators
Brian Elliot
is 5-2-2 with a 2.57 GAA and a .911 save percentage.

Mike Brodeur is 0-0-0.


Stat Sheet


Bruins
Patrice Bergeron has five points in his last four games; is tied for the team lead in goals with seven and leads the team in points with 18.

Captain Zdeno Chara is tied for second on the team in points and is first on the Bruins’ blue line with 13. He also leads the Bruins in assists with 12.

Blake Wheeler scored the Bruins’ lone goal in regulation on Friday and is now tied with Bergeron for the team lead in goals with seven. Wheeler also has six assists and is tied with Chara for third on the team in points (13).

Marco Sturm (six goals, six assists) is fourth on the team in points with 12.

Forward Marc Savard had an assist for the second straight game and now has two helpers since returning from injury on Monday at St. Louis. Savard now has four goals and five assists.

Byron Bitz assisted on Blake Wheeler?s goal on Friday and now has three points (goal, two assists) in his last four games. Bitz has six points (three goals, three assists) this season.

The Bruins have been outscored 57-56 this season. They are averaging 2.24 goals per game and 2.17 goals against.

The Bruins went 0-for-3 on the power play on Friday and are 0-for7 in their last two games. They are now 12-for-86 on the power play this season with a 14 percent success rate.

The Bruins’ penalty kill has allowed only 14 goals on 93 power plays against them and has an 85 percent success rate. They killed all three New Jersey power plays on Friday.

The Bruins are 6-5-3 at home this season.

The Bruins are 3-0-1 against the Northeast Division.

The Bruins are 7-4-5 against the Eastern Conference.

Senators
Despite being held scoreless in his last three games, Daniel Alfredsson leads the Senators in assists with 15 and in points with 23.

Mike Fisher
has missed the last two games but has seven points in his last four games played. Fisher has 10 goals and 11 assists this season for 21 points.

Milan Michalek has four points in his last five games. Michalek has produced in his first season since being dealt to Ottawa with Jonathan Cheechoo in exchange for Dany Heatley, amassing 11 goals and four assists.

Filip Kuba leads the Ottawa blue line in assists (10) and in points with 11. He has been held pointless in his last two games.

The Sens have outscored their opponents 68-64. They?re averaging 2.24 goals per game and allowing 2.78.

The Senators were 1-for-4 on the power play in their 2-1 win over Columbus on Thursday and are 14-for-76 this season with a 18.4 percent success rate.

The Senators’ penalty kill has allowed 17 goals on 101 power plays faced for an 83.3 percent success rate. The unit killed off five of the six Columbus power plays on Thursday.

The Sens are 3-4-0 on the road this season. The Senators have played the fewest number of road games in the league.


Ottawa is 4-0-1 against the Northeast Division this season.

The Senators are 11-7-2 against the Eastern Conference this season.


Black and Blue

Bruins
Goalie Tim Thomas is day-to-day with an upper body injury. He has missed the last six games.

Milan Lucic
is out for 2-4 weeks with a high ankle sprain.

Senators
Forward Mike Fisher (upper body) is questionable.

Forward Chris Neil (knee) is out for two weeks.

Goalie Pascal Leclaire (broken cheek) is out for four weeks.

Defenseman Anton Volchenkov (elbow) is day-to-day and won?t play.

This Date in Bruins History

On Nov. 28, 1954, Leo Labine scored a hat trick in a 6-2 win over Detroit.

On Nov. 28, 1981, Rick Middleton had four points and Barry Pederson had three in a 5-4 win over the Islanders.

Overheard

?I guess right now, we set the table for [Saturday]. We are talking about Ottawa. They have a couple games in hand. We have to win that game and they have to win their games in hand.?
–Bruins head coach Claude Julien on the importance of Saturday?s battle for first place in the Northeast Division


Press Box


Bruins
The Bruins just couldn?t get that extra inch Friday.

The Bruins have lost Milan Lucic to injury once again, but Tim Thomas could return Saturday.

Patrice Bergeron has found his offense again.

Senators
Here?s the game story from the Senators’ 2-1 win over Columbus.

Jason Spezza had the ?A? on his chest filling in as alternate captain for the injured Mike Fisher and scored his goal in nine games.

Bruising defenseman Anton Volchenkov still isn?t ready to return:

NHL
Forward David Clarkson may have a broken ankle after taking a Chara slaopshot.

Is Marian Hossa jinxed?

Here?s a cool story on the hockey sweater.


Outlook

The Bruins need to do almost everything they did on Friday, but more of what they did just once, which is to score. The B’s are playing great defensive hockey right now and are skating as a cohesive unit on a consistent basis but they can?t seem to light the red lamp and help out their goalie, who of late, has been the sensational Tuukka Rask.

Look for Boston to really take every shot they can tonight on Ottawa back-up Brian Elliot who is filling in for the injured Pascal Leclaire. They will need to create open lanes and get traffic in front for their point men to get the shots through. If successful, they should be able to continue their dominance over a team that isn?t road-tested yet.

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