BOSTON - The Bruins kick off their seventh set of back-to-back games on Saturday against the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden, before traveling to face the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.
Game time is set for 1:00 p.m. ET (NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub).
It can't be understated how important it is for the Bruins to start to find a rhythm in their play. Four points in less than 48 hours could quickly put them back in the playoff picture, depending on the play of the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers and Florida Panthers.
That's the type of scoreboard watching the Bruins would have liked to avoid heading into the 2014-15 season.
But here they sit, 39 games into the season, with a 19-15-4 record and 42 points. Florida has 43 points with two games in hand, New York has 44 points with three games in hand on the Bruins, and Toronto is claiming the first Wild Card spot with 45 points after picking up a 4-3 shootout win over Boston on New Year's Eve.
"Every point right now, we need to capitalize on," Brad Marchand said pregame from TD Garden. "We can’t give up games and points at this point in the season."
"We’re trying to climb back in the standings. Every point’s important, and they will be from here on out, so we have to come prepared for every game and make sure we give ourselves the best opportunity to win every game."
That means the Bruins need the two points in regulation, especially against divisional opponents like Ottawa.
They've already taken three of four points against Atlantic Division opponents this week, having earned a 5-2 win over Detroit prior to dropping the game to Toronto.
So, what it's going to take?
"It’s going to be more of a 60-minute effort for us," said Daniel Paille. "At times, we see that it’s there in the games, but we have to play games like we did against Detroit, and for parts of the Toronto game, consistently."
"Those are questions everyone’s been trying to figure out, but I think having another divisional game, everyone is capable of playing the way we have to."
The Bruins put forth arguably their most dominant, 60-minute game of the season against Detroit, and got the results, even without Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic in the lineup for that game.
That has to be the blueprint. They were able to bring that same work ethic in spurts against the Leafs, coming back from a 3-1 deficit. They controlled the game in the third period and overtime, allowing just two shots.
The urgency needs to carry over, especially with the Senators coming off a four-day layoff that hasn't seen them play since a 5-2 win over Buffalo on Monday night. Ottawa also outshot its opposition in three straight games.
Boston can't let the Sens grab a hold of the momentum, like the Leafs were able to do.
"If you expect to go out there and play a perfect game, and think that they're not going to push back at all and all of a sudden they surprise you, you're going to be back on your heels," said Torey Krug. "So we have to understand that eventually things aren't going to go as planned and we just have to control that situation and make sure it's as short as possible."
"Those momentum swings can control a game, and you look at the last game — we scored to tie it up, and then we weren’t able to build any momentum off that because they scored right away," said Marchand. "We just have to find a way to capitalize on momentum swings that we have, and try to use them all to our advantage."
The Black and Gold can build and sustain momentum by utilizing the man-advantage. They haven't had many opportunities (lowest in the League), but they have put up two power-play goals in their past two games, along with
Getting a more consistent effort won't only help to get the desired result against Ottawa; it will set them up for Sunday's game in Carolina.
"Obviously the goal before a weekend like this is to get four points but that's mathematically impossible to get four without the first two," smiled Krug. "So it's a very important game for us, we have to approach it as a must-win game, especially chasing points to get back in the playoffs."
"It's crucial to take the right approach for the first game and use it as momentum into the next game, so I think that's the approach you'll see from the guys tonight for sure."
Projected Lineup vs. Toronto 1/3
Milan Lucic — David Krejci — Seth Griffith
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — Reilly Smith
Chris Kelly — Carl Soderberg — Loui Eriksson
Daniel Paille — Gregory Campbell — Craig Cunningham
Zdeno Chara - Dougie Hamilton
Dennis Seidenberg - Kevan Miller
Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid
Starter: Tuukka Rask // Backup: Niklas Svedberg