12/14/2011 8:12:00 AM
divisional rivals Bruins and Senators square off in Ottawa this evening after
both teams notched a victory last night.
Boston Bruins (19-9-1)
declare they have two number one goaltenders, it’s usually only lip service
being paid to the backup in order to elevate his confidence and motivate his
performance. Such is the case with the Boston Bruins as well but coach Claude Julien may be very close to actually believing
those words he uttered after last night’s 3-0 blanking of the LA Kings where Tuukka Rask turned aside 41 shots in a
stellar performance. Perhaps what made
Rask’s shutout even more impressive was notching it without the services of
rangy All-Star defenseman Zdeno Chara and gritty center Gregory Campbell.
again has staked their claim to the best defense in hockey backboned by All
World goaltender Tim Thomas. Though
backup Tuukka Rask was magnificent in net last night it will be Thomas getting
the nod between the pipes for Boston tonight.
Thomas’s last outing was an uncharacteristically subpar performance
Saturday night in Columbus when he was pulled after two periods. It proved to be a prescient decision by
Julien as Rask blanked the Blue Jackets in the final frame and Boston snapped
their 2 game losing streak with a 5-3 victory.
currently has the best +/- differential in the entire league with a +38 which
is due not only to their stout defense but also to an impressive offense. Boston is not surprisingly back on top as the
number one rated defense but suddenly boasts the 2nd ranked overall
offense to boot. The emergence of the
second pick in last year’s draft Tyler Seguin as Boston’s leading point getter
has been a boon to the Bruins offense as has a healthy Patrice Bergeron. Solid offensive contributions by late last season
acquisitions Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley have also been a pleasant surprise. Add in talented terror Milan Lucic and silky
smooth wing man Nathan Horton and it’s easy to see why the Bruins are looming
as solid favorites to repeat as Stanley Cup contenders.
Ottawa Senators (14-13-4)
dropping 5 of their last 6 games, Ottawa got a gutsy win in overtime over the
Buffalo Sabres last night. Trailing 2-1
in the 3rd period, Peter Regin tallied to knot the game at 2 and
rookie defenseman Jared Cowen wandered deep into the Sabres zone to tap in the
game winner just 45 seconds into overtime.
However, the victory was not without its consequences as the NHL’s
leading goal scorer Milan Michalek collided with talented teammate Erik
Karlsson and sustained an upper body injury that looked suspiciously like a
concussion. His status for tonight’s
game is unknown at the time of this writing but his absence would be a huge
blow for a team that is already coming into this game as sizeable underdogs.
have found decent production up front, ranking 10th in the league in
scoring but their defense has been suspect to say the least. They are allowing 3.4 goals per game which
places them 30th in the league but perhaps the bane to their
existence this season has been their proclivity to get behind teams early. They have been outscored 33-20 in the 1st
period this season and as a result find themselves in the unenviable position
of trailing late in games.
difficult to lay -175 in NHL odds on the road, particularly against a team like the
Senators who actually sport a winning record, it’s even more difficult to
overlook the recent history between these two franchises. In their only meeting this season, Ottawa had
a 6 game win streak snapped in Boston back on November 1st in a 5-3
loss where they were outshot 41-26.
past three seasons, Boston is 6-0 in games played in Ottawa and goalie Craig
Anderson is 1-5 with a 4.08 GAA against the Bruins. Factor in Milan Michalek being less than 100
percent or not suited up at all and you’ll be lucky to get the visitors at less
than -200 by game time. Lay the lumber and play Boston.