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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Senators, Friday February 18th

Fresh off a 6-3 win over the Islanders last night, the Bruins (32-19-7) travel north tonight to take on the Eastern Conference cellar dwellers, the lowly Ottawa Senators (18-30-9).

The B’s were able to snap a season-long three-game losing streak on Long Island last night, in a game that featured six different goal scorers for Boston, and a top notch performance by backup goaltender Tuukka Rask, who made 34 saves on the night, earning himself his sixth win of the season.

Ottawa on the other hand, has gone from bad to worse lately. Winners just twice in their last 20 games, tonight the Senators will look to avoid extending their current home losing streak to 10 games, which would match the mark they set back in the 1995-96 season.

Without further delay, let’s get right to tonight’s pre-game notes to get you ready for some Friday night hockey, north of the border…

  • Tonight marks the fourth of six meetings between these two division rivals this season. All three previous meetings have ended in shutouts, with Boston taking two of three, winning the last matchup 6-0 on January 11th in a game that featured a hat trick by Patrice Bergeron.
  • Both teams played their last game against the New York Islanders. On Tuesday night, the Isles topped Ottawa 4-3 in a shootout.
  • Boston has won four straight at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, and seven of their last eight.
  • With Rask getting the start last night, it’s expected we’ll see Tim Thomas get the nod this evening against a Senators team he has excelled against. Thomas is 13-3-0 in his last 16 games against the Sens, which includes five shutouts during that stretch. He has shut out Ottawa in two of his last three starts.
  • Speaking of goaltenders, Ottawa kept up their off-ice activity earlier today, completing their fourth trade in just over a week. GM Bryan Murray shipped goalie Brian Elliott to Colorado in exchange for goaltender Craig Anderson. Forwards Mike Fisher (to Nashville last week), Chris Kelly (to Boston Tuesday), and Jarkko Ruutu (to Anaheim yesterday) have also been sent packing recently.
  • Chris Kelly should be cleared to switch locker rooms tonight and join his new team to face his former team. Kelly, who was acquired by Boston for a 2011 second-round draft pick, will wear #23 and is expected to center Boston’s third line between Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder.
  • With Elliott off to Colorado, and Pascal Leclaire still out with a lower body injury, the likely starter for Ottawa tonight will be youngster Robin Lehner (1-3-0, 3.40GAA).
  • Also sidelined for Ottawa is captain Daniel Alfredsson (back), and defensemen Sergei Gonchar (lower body) and Chris Campoli (lower body).
  • Scoring for the Sens is led by their lone All Star, defenseman Erik Karlsson (9G, 32A), followed by Alfredsson (14G, 17A) and veteran winger Alex Kovalev (13G, 13A).
  • Karlsson’s 32 points is the lowest mark amongst team leaders. 133 skaters in the NHL have more points that Karlsson.
  • A trio of Senator defensemen rank the lowest of the low in the NHL’s plus/minus ratings. Chris Phillips leads the way at a league-worst -27, followed by Karlsson and Filip Kuba, both at -25.
  • The Senators rank 28th in the NHL at 3.26 goals against per game, and 29th at 2.26 goals scored per game. They’re bad… really bad.

Local Spotlight

With all of these Senators either injured or traded away, it has made room on the roster for local favorite Bobby Butler to gain the spotlight. The young winger grew up in Marlboro, Massachusetts, setting all sorts of records while playing for Marlboro High School, while also playing for the Boston Jr. Bruins of the EJHL. From there, he went on to shine for four years at the University of New Hampshire, helping to lead the Wildcats to the NCAA tournament in all four seasons. During his senior year last year, Butler led all NCAA players with 29 goals, on his way to being named Hockey East’s Player of the Year and a Hobey Baker nominee. At the NHL level, Butler appeared in the final two games of the season last year for Ottawa, then started this season in the AHL with Binghamton. He has played in 11 games now with the big club this season, scoring a goal and an assist in each of his last two games.

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