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Bruins, Senators Set for Division Showdown

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
BOSTON, MA – When the Bruins beat the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, they slightly widened their Northeast division lead to five points.

Lucic and Bergeron
But as the Senators (33-23-8) visit the TD Garden tonight, they’re right back on the Bruins (37-20-3) tails after beating the New York Islanders Sunday.

The Black & Gold lead the division with 77 points, but if the Senators win tonight, they’ll be just one point away from the Bruins, albeit having played four more games.

“[The game is] as big as it was in Ottawa,” Head Coach Claude Julien said yesterday. “We’re trying to push these guys back and they followed up with a win [Sunday], so they’re back on our heels again.

“We just got to keep pushing them down and the way to do that is to win hockey games. We understand how big of a game it is and they’ve give us some pretty good tilts in our building so far this year and I don’t think that’s going to change.”

The Bruins are 8-0 in their last eight games against Ottawa – 4-0 this season – and their last lost came in the TD Garden on Nov. 10, 2010.

However, even though the numbers are in the Bruins favor, forward Milan Lucic isn’t looking past the competition.

“[Ottawa is] a team that’s playing real well as of late and kind of crept up behind us in the standings,” Lucic said. “And it makes for a real good interesting game for us [today].”

Tonight’s game isn’t just important because of the division implications – but also because it starts the Bruins run of 22 games in 40 days.

After the New Year, Julien always talked about the team playing a heavy schedule, and this is as heavy as it gets.

“We looked at it early in the season that the schedule was going to be very heavy in the second half, especially the finish of it,” defenseman Zdeno Chara said. “That’s when it’s important that you play the right way and smart and save the energy when you have to save it.”

After yesterday’s practice, Julien also mentioned that the Bruins will be challenged with the amount of injuries they are dealing with. The problem isn’t entirely solved, but the acquisition of veterans Brian Rolston, Mike Mottau and Greg Zanon will add some depth to the lineup.

Mottau and Zanon will help lock down the blueline while defenseman Johnny Boychuk is out with a mild concussion, as Rolston will help at the forward position as the Bruins play without Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley.

Rolston, a 19-year veteran, has an idea of the areas he’d like to contribute, but like Mottau and Zanon, he is happy to help wherever he’s needed.

“I hope I can help on the power play,” Rolston said. “I’ve always played special teams in my career and we’ll see where I fit. I’m sure they have an idea I’ve pretty much played in every kind of role imaginable after [19] years in the league. So, whatever they hand me I’ll be ready for it.”

--- Anthony Gulizia
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