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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Senators, Saturday 1/23

After a brutal loss to the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets Thursday night, the Bruins (23-18-8) will look to avoid their fourth straight loss this afternoon when they host a familiar foe, the Ottawa Senators (27-21-4).
 
This will mark the sixth and final meeting between these two division rivals.  Boston won the first four games, but had that streak put to an end Monday when the Sens handed them a 5-1 butt-whooping, led by a Daniel Alfredsson hat trick.
 
These two teams are heading in completely opposite directions. While Boston has struggled to gain consistency, the Sens have won five straight games, including an impressive 4-1 win over Chicago Tuesday and 3-2 victory of St. Louis Thursday. They have vaulted to fifth in the Eastern Conference with 58 points, while the B’s have sunk to a seventh place tie with the Islanders at 54 points. If the B’s lose today, by the end of the night they could find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture for the first time this season.
 
Heading into this afternoon’s matinee skate, let’s check out some pre-game news and notes…

  • On the injury front, Boston’s lineup will mirror that of Thursday’s game, with Marco Sturm (leg), Byron Bitz (undisclosed), and Steve Begin (undisclosed) out for today’s game. The trio of forwards remain questionable for Sunday’s game in Carolina.  Marc Savard (knee), who has missed the last six games, is working his way back, and while he would love to play tomorrow against the ‘Canes, it is more likely to see him return Friday in Buffalo. Defenseman Andrew Ference (groin) is still on injured reserve and is weeks away from returning.
  • According to the official Twitter feed of the Ottawa Senators, center Jason Spezza will return to the lineup for this afternoon’s game after missing time with a torn MCL. The Sens also welcomed back Milan Michalek to action Thursday, leaving just Jesse Winchester (knee) and Pascal Leclaire (concussion) out for Ottawa. Anton Volchenkov left Thursday’s action with an upper body injury and is questionable for today, and backup goalie Mike Brodeur is suffering from the flu, but is likely to still dress for today’s game.
  • Ottawa’s offense has been clicking on all cylinders lately, with several Senators enjoying hot streaks. Captain Daniel Alfredsson has four goals and four assists in the four games he’s played since returning to the lineup, while Alex Kovalev has put up a goal and five assists during a five-game points streak. Center Mike Fisher has two goals and five assists during the team’s five-game win streak, and winger Peter Regin has five points in his last two games.
  • Fisher leads the team in points with 17 goals and 22 assists, followed by Alfredsson (13G, 26A), and Kovalev (12G, 23A).
  • Likely in net today for Ottawa will be Brian Elliott (13-11-3, 2.73GAA), who has won the team’s last three games. Backing up Elliott is rookie Mike Brodeur (3-0-0, 1.00GAA).
  • During the team’s winning streak, Ottawa is 18-for-18 on the penalty kill. Boston’s penalty kill has dropped to 2nd in the NHL behind San Jose.
  • Boston’s offense has officially dropped to the bottom of the barrel in the NHL. Their 2.43 goals per game now ranks dead last in the league… even worse than Carolina’s 2.49. Blech… 

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