One welcome addition to the lineup will be Daniel Paille, getting back into action against the Senators after missing seven games while recovering from a mild concussion.
Paille's return marks another positive step for the Bruins' forward corps, which is still without Loui Eriksson (concussion), Chris Kelly (broken right fibula) and Shawn Thornton for an extended period of time.
Still, amidst a month of December with injuries, illness and adversity, the Bruins went 7-3-0 in their 10 games prior to tonight's matchup.
"That three day break I think was a welcome break for every team in the league," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien following the team's pregame skate Friday morning.
"When you see teams get that kind of time off, you normally see better hockey afterwards. So it’s going to be better for the fans, it’s going to be better for the players, health-wise, injury-wise, and I think performance-wise as well."
The rest certainly helped Paille as well, though the forward had started skating with the team before the break.
"It’s been a tough month, December especially so it’s nice to get three days off. But it’s behind us now and we’re ready to go for a good stretch now," said alternate captain David Krejci, who enjoyed the downtime but also wasted no time getting into the gym on his time "off" to prepare for tonight.
Family time is valued, and even though it was only three days, the Bruins made good use of that as well.
"I got to see [my dog], got to see the family, hung out with a couple of my best friends back home. So it was really good to do that," said Ryan Spooner, of his recharging time away from the rink.
The centerman has been part of the Bruins' recent stretch, having won seven of their past nine games. They've also won seven straight at home.
"We’ve been good. Again, ‘happy’ is a word, ‘satisfied’ is another," said Julien, assessing his team, through 37 games, with a 25-10-2 record.
"So we’re certainly not satisfied with our play yet. We still feel there’s always untapped potential that’s still out there and we just have to keep working on getting that. But when you’re sitting in first in your division it’s not a bad place to be in at Christmas so we certainly can’t stand here saying we’re disappointed."
"It’s been a challenge at times, but a challenge that we’ve overcome and done a pretty good job of staying at the top of the standings for the most part."
Facing a Desperate Team
The Bruins are second in the Eastern Conference, while Ottawa is in 11th and fighting to get into a playoff spot.
The Sens are coming off a 5-0 win over Pittsburgh. In their first meeting with the Bruins this season, they came back with four straight goals, after falling down 2-0. Three of those tallies came in the third period.
"We know they never quit," said David Krejci. "And they’re a desperate team right now; they’re, I think a point outside the playoffs so they’re a desperate team and they’re looking for wins so we have to be ready for tonight."
Power Play Hot Streak
The Bruins went 3-for-3 on the power play in their 6-2 win over Nashville, and are 4-for-6 in their last two games. They're currently tied for 5th in the league, converting at 22-percent.
"Its good to see the puck go in the net, but we know there’s always room for improvement so we’re still trying to work on it," said Krejci. "Even though we’re scoring, we know that we can do some little things a little different so we’re going to try to work on it and be even better."
Spooner vs Hometown Team
Ryan Spooner has played against his hometown team before, in Ottawa, back in March 2013. It was his third NHL game. He's skated with most of the Sens in the summers, and grew up playing around Ottawa. It's always special.
It's also perfect timing for him, as he's coming off his career-high three-assist night in Nashville, and has been getting more confident and comfortable each game in the Spoked-B.
"I think when you come up, I guess you’re pretty nervous to start. You’re not really too sure kind of what to do out there but as you play more and more games, it gets a lot easier," said Spooner. "And I think for me, I usually play best when I’m creating stuff and just kind of making my plays. So I think what I’m doing obviously is where I’m playing my best games."
"He’s been getting better," said Julien. "He’s played fairly well in the last few games and he’s a guy who has some skill, has some speed; we’ve always talked about that. But he’s gaining more experience and more confidence at this level. I’ve liked his game the last couple of games he’s played. He seems more like himself and less nervous."
Tuukka Rask and Robin Lehner are the expecting goaltending matchup on Friday night. Lehner (5-8-3, 2.54 GAA, .926 SV%) was confirmed by Sens Head Coach Paul MacLean. Rask (19-8-2, 1.87 GAA, .936 SV%) was first off at the Bruins' pregame skate.
Svedberg as Backup
The Bruins recalled goaltender Niklas Svedberg from the Providence Bruins on Friday morning. It marks Svedberg's first NHL regular season recall. He's in his second full season with the organization after being signed as a free agent in May of 2012.
He's set to dress up as the backup goaltender on Friday night against Ottawa.
"We’re going to have a look at him in the next little while here," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien told media following pregame skate. "Not tonight, but maybe tomorrow or the game after. I think he’s earned that. We told him that after having such a good camp, that we’d bring him up at some point and give him some games so that’s what we’re doing right now."
"We don’t bring guys up just to practice. If we bring them up, it’s to hopefully give them a game…we’ll play him at some point."
Boston Projected Lineup
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Reilly Smith
Carl Soderberg-Ryan Spooner-Matt Fraser
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Jordan Caron
Zdeno Chara-Torey Krug
Dennis Seidenberg-Johnny Boychuk
Matt Bartkowski-Adam McQuaid
Starter: Tuukka Rask
Backup: Niklas Svedberg