The Bruins (23-16-8) return home to TD Garden this afternoon for a holiday matinee skate with the Ottawa Senators (24-21-4). Boston and Ottawa are separated in the standings by just two points, with the Bruins currently occupying the fifth spot in the East and Ottawa sitting in the seventh seed.
Boston is coming off a three-game road trip that honestly, they could have swept. Instead they broke even, going 1-1-1 in the trio of games. The trip ended Saturday with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings, in a game that saw the B’s blow a two-goal third period lead.
Today, the Black and Gold turn their focus to the Sens, a team that has won two straight after suffering through a five-game losing streak. Let’s now look at a few more newsworthy notes, heading into this afternoon’s matchup…
Boston has won all four previous meetings over Ottawa this season, by a combined score of 14-7. The two teams will wrap up their season series Saturday at the Garden.
Overall, the B’s have won 11 of the last 12 games over the Sens, including the last six games at TD Garden.
Injuries continue to mount for Boston. While David Krejci, Byron Bitz, and Mark Stuart all returned to action last week, Marco Sturm (leg), Dennis Wideman (illness), and Steve Begin (undisclosed) all missed time during the West Coast trip. Sturm, Wideman, and Begin are all game-time decisions this afternoon, as is center Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron, who is coming back from a broken thumb, has missed the last two weeks. He did make the West Coast trip last week, practicing with the team, but did not see any game action. He could make his return to the lineup this afternoon. Also remaining out is center Marc Savard (knee) and defenseman Andrew Ference (groin).
For Ottawa, they will be without goalie Pascal Leclaire (concussion), along with the three forwards they have on injured reserve. Centers Jason Spezza (torn MCL) and Jesse Winchester (knee), and winger Milan Michalek (head) have not traveled with the team to Boston.
Ottawa’s scoring is led by center Mike Fisher (16G, 19A), a.k.a. the future Mr. Carrie Underwood. Following Fisher on the stat sheet is captain Daniel Alfredsson (10G, 24A) who returned to the lineup Saturday after missing three weeks due to injury. Beyond that pair, the only other Senator over 30 points on the year is veteran winger Alex Kovalev (11G, 20A).
In goal, without the services of Leclaire, the crease has been manned by the duo of Brian Elliott (10-11-3, 2.91GAA) and rookie Mike Brodeur (3-0-0, 1.00GAA). Brodeur has been in net for Ottawa’s last two games, both wins.
I don’t usually bet on hockey games because of their unpredictability, but in today’s game, the safest bet going would be that Ottawa will be held scoreless on the power play. The Sens rank dead last at 13.8% on the man-advantage, while Boston’s 88.1% penalty-kill percentage is league’s best.
Lastly this morning, the Bruins have recalled forward Drew Larman up from Providence to be available for this afternoon’s game. Larman has five goals and four assists in 43 games with the Baby B’s this season. In his brief career, he has played in just 22 games at the NHL level, all with the Florida Panthers.