BOSTON, MA – Tonight marks the fifth and final regular season meeting of the season between the Bruins and Ottawa Senators. To this point in the season, the Sens have been ravaged by injuries – they have lost 202 man-games to injuries.
And while they have managed to stay in the playoff race – they are currently sixth in the Eastern Conference with 48 points – the Bruins have come away victorious in all four match-ups this season, with two of the wins coming in overtime and a shootout. All of the games have been decided by one goal.
The Senators have Milan Michalek and Craig Anderson back from injury, which will provide the Bruins an even tougher task as they try to avoid losing three straight games for the first time this season.
“I think it’s going to be the same kind of a game, they’re playing well,” said Julien of the Senators, who have won two straight. “I think this is the last game of their extended road trip. I know how we’d feel if we were at that stage, a win here would do them a lot of good. A win here would do us even more good.
“Right now, I don’t anticipate anything different than what it’s been before. They play hard, they battle hard. Like I said, they’ve gotten themselves into a good groove with all of the injuries they’ve had that’s making them still a good contending team. Things are not going to change between the two of us; they’re going to be hard fought games.”
Former Senator Chris Kelly had a simple response when he was asked what the difference has been between the B’s and Sens this season.
“I just think the one goal,” said the center following Monday’s morning skate. “I think the games have been extremely close, and they could go either way, and I’m kind of expecting the same thing tonight.
“It’s the last game on a very long [seven-game] road trip [for Ottawa], and I’m sure they want to finish it off hard, and we want to come out and play hard as well.”
Ottawa’s alternate captain, Chris Phillips, said one bad shift can be the difference in the game, especially with how close the meetings with the Bruins have gone this season.
“Play a 60-minute game, maybe 65,” Phillips said when asked what it will take to beat the B’s. “We say that every time we play these guys; they rarely take a shift off and we have to be prepared to get focused and try and win every shift. You take one off and that’s been the difference in a couple of games.”
Patrice Bergeron, who collided with Ottawa’s Colin Greening on April 2 at TD Garden and suffered a concussion, may return to the lineup tonight after missing six games. The B’s alternate captain said for the Bruins to break their two-game losing skid, they must play Bruins-style hockey.
“We’ve got to play our style,” Bergeron said after today’s morning skate. “We have to get back to playing the whole game and just going out there and feeling good and feeling ready for the playoffs. It starts in those next two weeks heading into it.”
No Hard Feelings
Kelly, who was injured against the Senators on March 11 in Ottawa, after a knee-on-knee collision with Chris Neil, said he holds no ill will towards his former teammate. This will be the first time Kelly faces Ottawa since the injury (a broken left tibia) that resulted in him missing 14 games.
“[Neil] sent a few texts and I responded, no hard feelings,” said Kelly. “It happened quick. It’s a quick hockey play, and I know Chris, and we’re fine.”
Another one of Kelly’s former Ottawa teammates is now back alongside him in Boston. Wade Redden, who played for Ottawa from 1996-2008, was traded to the B’s from the St. Louis Blues at the trade deadline, and Kelly says it has been exciting to be sharing a dressing room with him again.
“It’s great to have Reddsy back,” Kelly said with a smile. “He hasn’t changed, which is great. I was obviously pretty thrilled when he got traded here. I know my wife was because our wives are joined at the hip; we both have two daughters and a lot in common, so it’s been great having him.”
For Sens, Injuries Are No Excuse
The Bruins have had their share of injuries this season, but with Bergeron likely to return tonight and Brad Marchand skating this morning for the first time since his concussion against New Jersey on April 10, they are almost at full strength.
The Senators, however, have lost 202 man-games to injury this season to the Bruins 45. And while Michalek and Anderson are back playing, the Sens remain without former Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza.
Phillips said that injuries can’t be an excuse and that with the playoffs coming, the Senators have to remain focused on playing hockey, just as they have all season.
“Hopefully we get some more guys back, but that’s certainly not our focus, it’s not a distraction,” Phillips said. “We’re not spending time thinking about it because it’s out of our hands. We’ve got to play with what we have, night in and night out and be prepared and still have high expectations for ourselves. On that side, hopefully guys do get healthy and are able to help us out. We have to be a confident group with what we have.