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In the second-most anticipated match-up of the 2009-10 season, the Boston Bruins take on the Southeast Division’s second-place team, and winners of four-straight, the Atlanta Thrashers tonight at the Phillips Arena at 7:00 p.m. EST. The Bruins (76), just one-point ahead of the ninth-place Thrashers (75) in the Eastern Conference, are essentially in a post-season game, as they could literally swap places with Atlanta by the end of the night.
The log-jam in the Eastern Conference continues, as the sixth- and 10th seed teams are separated by eight points. Last night, the Ottawa Senators (81) shutout the Montreal Canadiens (79), 2-0 at the Bell Centre, as the Habs remain in seventh-place. In sixth-place, The Philadelphia Flyers — 79 points and losers of two-in-a-row — travel to Scotiabank Place to battle the fifth-seed Sens. So the Bruins could not only go ahead of the Thrashers by three, but pull within one of the rivaled Habs and Flyers.
The Bruins have owned the Thrashers this season, posting a perfect 3-0-0 record while doubling up Atlanta with a 14-7 scoring edge. In fact, the Bruins have won its last nine meetings against the Thrashers — with Atlanta’s last win over Boston, a 5-0 shutout on Dec. 29, 2007. Tonight will be the 40th all time meeting between these two clubs, as Boston hols a 23-11-2-3 record over Atlanta and the 132-123 scoring edge. (Check out some Bruins’ individual career stats vs. Atlanta over on 4sportboston).
Despite laying an egg in the TD Garden on Thursday — 3-0 blanking by the Penguins — the Bruins have lit the lamp 17 times over their last seven games. Krejci has 2-5-7 totals over his last six games; Mark Recchi with 3-3-6 over his his last seven; Miroslav Satan, 1-1-2 in his last three; Dennis Seidenberg with 0-5-5 over a seven game span; and Patrice Bergeron has netted 4-3-7 over his last seven, and has had a face-off percentage of 50-percent or better in each of his last nine.
However, over those seven games — without Marc Savard — the Bruins have gone 1-for-19 (5.3%) on the power play. But 20-for-23 on the penalty kill.
Point-less games have been running deep for a few players that need to pick up their offense. Steve Begin leads the team with a 27-game point-less drought to match his uniform number; Daniel Paille 11 games, Zdeno Chara seven, Shawn Thornton seven, and Marco Sturm in his last five contests.
Goaltending remains the Bruins’ strong points, as it has been all season long. Tuukka Rask — who leads all NHL net-minders with a 2.08 GAA and second in SV% with .928 — has posted a 2-2-0 record, with one shutout, a .931 save-percentage, and a goals-against average right around 2.03 over his last five games. Tim Thomas, who has been shaky all season, was pulled from last Monday night’s game against the Devils for the fifth time this season. The 35-year-old has a 2-2-1 record, .907 save-percentage, and a goals-against average hovering around 3.00.
Off the ice: Matt Hunwick and Brad Marchand were healthy scratches on Sunday against the Rangers, and Marc Savard remains sidelined with a concussion.
The game can be seen on NESN TV and heard on 98.5 FM The Sports Hub. Both pregame shows begin at 6:30 p.m.