– Tonight, the Bruins face a challenge they have yet to come across this season: trying to prevent a three-game losing streak.
Back-to-back losses to Pittsburgh and Winnipeg, games in which the B’s managed one goal each, marked the first time this year that they had lost two straight games in regulation.
"Got to win. Simple as that, we've got to get back to our game, we haven't been playing our best hockey," said Coach Julien, following the Bruins' pregame skate at Scotiabank Place Thursday morning. "That's why we've lost these last two games. There's ups and downs during the season, you've got to work your way through it."
And tonight, while trying to break that streak, the B's will have no easy opponent, as they've seen from not only the tight games through the years, but especially the two close match-ups so far this season in which they edged the Sens 2-1 in overtime and 3-2 in the shootout.
“Every time we play them it seems like it's a real tight game,” said B's defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who will most likely see even more minutes in Adam McQuaid's absence than his already machine-like ice-time every night (he logged over 27 minutes after McQuaid did not return to Tuesday night's game in Winnipeg after sustaining a shoulder sprain).
“I remember last year, almost all of them were one-goal games."
The Bruins D-corps, who will be stepping up in McQuaid's absence, know just how closely these two teams match up.
“They work really hard, they have young, good skill over there," said Seidenberg. "For us, we have to look at our game, improve from last game and be ready, just match their work ethic.”
Aaron Johnson, expected to return to the lineup to take McQuaid’s place on the back end, agreed with his fellow defenseman.
“[They are a] desperate team, they have a lot of guys that are playing in different situations, they want to prove that they can play in the league,” he said.
“They're a hard-working team, so it's going to be a tough game tonight.”
Meanwhile, the Ottawa Senators continue to defy their own injury woes and win without stars such as Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson, along with goaltender Craig Anderson. Coming into tonight’s game, the Sens, who have lost 147 man-games to injuries this season, have won three straight and find themselves just three points behind the Bruins in the Northeast Division – though the B’s have two games in hand.
The Black & Gold know that their 2-0-0 record against the Senators this season and 10-game win streak in Ottawa (dating back to April 7, 2009) does not mean anything tonight. Following Thursday’s morning skate, B’s Head Coach Claude Julien pointed out that both of the Bruins’ wins against Ottawa this season have come in overtime and a shootout.
“Maybe we'll have to make this our home rink and take advantage of it,” Julien joked, when asked about his team’s recent success at Scotiabank Place. “It hasn't been easy, you saw last game we had to call a timeout and get ourselves back in the game. Can't say it's an easy building to play in – they play well.
“Sometimes, certain teams have confidence against other teams and we've had our fair share of issues – we lost both of our games to Buffalo – so this isn't unusual as far as certain situations happening against certain teams. We seem to match up well against them, but matching up is one thing, winning is another.
“The last time, to be honest with you, we were kind of lucky to come out of here with a win. They're playing well, they're playing hard, and if our guys can compete as hard as they have been, we're going to give ourselves a chance.”
The Senators, who will see defenseman Mike Lundin on the back end in place of the injured Marc Methot and start Robin Lehner in goal, are on their three-game streak as they begin a five-game home stand, but are looking up at the Bruins in the standings.
But even with the B's on a recent two-game skid, Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson likes to keep his team even-keeled, while understanding that Boston is always a tough opponent that provides a good test for any hockey club.
“Every game is important. I don't know if we can put more emphasis on one game than another,” explained Sens’ captain. “We have a lot of tough games coming up. Boston's ahead of us, we have some teams that are right behind us. You just try to give yourself a chance every night."
"Boston provides a good challenge, they're a sound hockey team. We'd like to get a win against them.”
The Bruins, on the other hand, hope to make it 11 straight wins in Canada's capital.