The Boston Bruins are finally returning home after a long and successful five game road trip where they went 4-1 to improve their record to a dominant 12-2-2. The Black and Gold will now be put to the test as their schedule gets more difficult with games almost every other night, including tonight when they host the Ottawa Senators at the TD Garden.
The Senators come into Thursday’s game with the same amount of points as the Bruins (26), but Boston has four games in hand. Despite its share of injuries, Ottawa has won five in a row and are 12-6-2 on the year. They are coming off a 2-1 shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens – sparked by Ben Bishop’s 44-save effort.
The Bruins, meanwhile, are coming off a 4-1 win Tuesday night in Long Island. Brad Marchand scored his 10th of the season, Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin added two assists each and Tuukka Rask compiled a career-high 36 saves in the victory.
Boston will once again return to the ice with a healthy lineup. But Ottawa will be without star defenseman Erik Karlsson, who is out indefinitely due to the hit by NHL’s most wanted man Matt Cooke, and forward Jason Spezza, who underwent back surgery at the beginning of February.
After the jump: lineups, more storylines, linkage and tweets of interest
Gametime: 7 p.m.
Location: TD Garden
T.V./Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins (12-2-2, 26 points), Senators (12-6-2, 26 points)
Bruins projected lineup
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin
Chris Bourque-Chris Kelly-Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg-Dougie Hamilton
Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid
Senators projected lineup
Jakob Silfverberg-Kyle Turris-Daniel Alfredsson
Colin Greening-Mika Zibanejad-Erik Condra
David Dziurzynski-Zack Smith-Chris Neil
Kaspars Daugavins-Peter Regin-Jim O’Brien
Patrick Wiercioch-Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips-Andre Benoit
Marc Methot-Eric Gryba
Bruins to watch
I guess we need to start keeping an eye on Marchand every game because it seems like he finds himself in the scoring column every night. The “Little Ball of Hate” tied for seventh in the league in goals after recording his 10th goal against the Islanders. Marchand, who is a plus-8 on the season, has been the biggest offensive surprise during the first third of the Bruins’ season.
Rask, meanwhile, will be looking to go unbeaten in his last eight starts without giving up more than two goals in regulation. He has been playing great between the pipes and finally looks like he is looking more comfortable with each game.
Senators to watch
With Spezza and Karlsson both out, the Senators lost a lot of fire power. But Daniel Alfredsson still wears a Sens sweater (for the time being) and must be accounted for. He has four goals and seven assists on the season, but like Chara, some of the things he does on the ice is not seen in a box score. So, the B’s must know where No. 11 is at all times while on the ice.
Kyle Turris leads the Senators in points with 12 (four goals, eight assists).
James Murphy talks about the success of the Senators even with several devastating injuries and about the defense of Tyler Seguin over the last few games and how it has helped the Bruins. (ESPN Boston)
Joe Haggerty has today’s version of the “Morning Skate” for CSNNE.com
Sensshot.com’s Phil Lemay has his game preview for tonight.
And Chris Lund has a great take on Daniel Alfredsson’s thoughts on Boston and their matchup tonight at the TD Garden. (OttawaSenators.com – Inside the Senate)
Tweets of interest
With realignment seemingly on the horizon in the National Hockey League, Milan Lucic is making a case to play in the “Orr” Division according to ESPN Boston’s Joe MacDonald (@ESPNJoeyMac).
Lucic would like to play in the “Orr” division if realignment happens.
— Joe McDonald (@ESPNJoeyMac) February 28, 2013
Former Boston University defenseman Eric Gryba and fellow Sens’ blue-liner Patrick Wiercioch discuss a few things at the morning skate (via @NHL_Sens).
— Ottawa Senators (@NHL_Sens) February 28, 2013