– The Bruins, coming off of two straight wins at home, against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers, are in Ottawa tonight to face the Senators in an important Northeast Division match-up.
Boston will be facing a Senators team that won their last game, defeating the New York Rangers on Friday by a score of 3-2, but had lost their previous four – including a 2-1 overtime loss to the Bruins, in Boston, on February 28.
Following the B’s morning skate at Scotiabank Place, Head Coach Claude Julien spoke about the Black & Gold’s success on the road to this point in the season.
The Bruins sport an 8-1-2 record away from TD Garden, and Julien said the key to playing well on the road is not to change up their game just because they are entering a hostile environment – especially Ottawa, where the Senators hold an impressive 9-1-2 record of their own.
“I think it's a matter of trying to play the game the same way on the road as it is at home,” Julien explained. “We just like to play a solid, all-around game. We don't win too often by big scores. It's about being sound. We've tried to bring the same on the road as we have at home, and so far it's worked out well for us.”
Patrice Bergeron also used the “simple” mantra, to describe the way the Bruins approach road games. He pointed out that playing well on the road now will pay off when it comes time for the postseason.
“We've always said that when playoff time comes, road games are going to be huge,” said Bergeron. “Being able to play well there and – I think this year is something we've talked about also – to be consistent at home and on the road because the schedule is so tight and so short.
“I think we're doing a good job at it, just play a simple game, but still show up and play our game for the whole 60 minutes.”
Julien knows his team will have to be ready for the Senators’ determination, even with some of their top players – Craig Anderson, Erik Karlsson, and Jason Spezza – out with injuries.
“You know what? With the injuries these guys have been through and have right now, their work ethic and their commitment, their system is what keeps them winning games,” said Julien. “You have to respect that because they have some good young players that have come up and done a good job for them.
“We saw it firsthand a week ago when we played them. They were a resilient team. We had our hands full, and we don't expect any different tonight.”
On the flip side of the B's road success, Ottawa boasts the East's best home team, having gone 9-1-2 at Scotiabank Place this season.
Senators’ captain, Daniel Alfredsson, said that his team’s success at home is due to the fact that, “we've just kept it pretty simple. We have a pretty good idea of what identity we have as a team, what we need to be successful. We've done a good job of putting pressure on the other teams and creating offense that way.”
Even with a steady home record, the B's bring a tough test for the Senators, who will try to match up against a strong four-line effort from the spoked-B.
“Last time we were in Boston, we had a good game against them,” Senators’ forward Zack Smith said this morning, following his team's pregame skate. “Our game had good intensity. We've always had good match-ups with them. They're a little bit similar to our team, they have some big guys, they're a physical team, very skilled players, as well. If it's anything like the last game, I think it will be a good game.”
Sens’ coach Paul MacLean called the B’s “the best team in the league” and said his team “better show up ready to play” if they want to come away with a win tonight.
“They just do everything right,” MacLean said of Boston. “They're the best, in probably the league, top to bottom. Depth-wise, goaltending, they're very good, they're very hard to play against. They play the game, they just wear you out. They just keep coming over and over and over and over again.
“We have to match their work ethic. The Bruins' game is always physical, and we have to make sure that we equal that physicality to have a chance.
“As far as I'm concerned, they're the best team in the league, so we got a game on our hands here tonight. We better show up ready to play. We’ve got to play a whole 60 minutes, otherwise they're going to knock us out.”