The Bruins have seen plenty of the Ottawa Senators in 2017. And they’ll close the calendar year with two more matchups against their Atlantic Division rivals.
After a six-game playoff series last spring, the teams will meet for the first time this season as the B’s host the Senators at TD Garden on Wednesday night. Boston will then visit Washington on Thursday before traveling across the border for another tilt with the Senators on Saturday night.
“We haven’t seen Ottawa at all this [season],” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “Obviously saw them a lot at the end of last year, so we know them well. But not having seen them we have to get back up to speed quickly and not fall into that turnover kind of game in the neutral zone that you have a tendency to do with them. I hope our guys are mindful that that’s not the way to beat them.”
Boston has not won a regular-season game against Ottawa since a 7-3 victory on Dec. 29, 2015 – a span of six games. However, the Senators have not yet played to the level that pushed them into Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals last season.
The Senators, 2-6-2 in their last 10 games, are seventh in the Atlantic Division with 30 points, some 13 points shy of the Bruins. Mark Stone paces the way for Ottawa with 31 points (14 goals, 17 assists) in 34 games, while Erik Karlsson – who missed the season’s first five games with an injury, is third on the team with 23 points.
The Bruins are hoping to break through against their playoff foes by keeping things simple following the three-day Christmas break.
“Anytime you have a few days off, things may be a little rusty,” said Marchand. “The biggest thing is you just have to have your skating legs and things will fall into place. Keep it simple early on and just try to work, try not to do too much early on, that’s all.”
Krejci ‘Feeling Good’
David Krejci, who has missed the last four games with an upper-body injury, skated with the team on Wednesday morning donning a red non-contact jersey. The pivot will not play against the Senators, but will travel with the team to Washington and Ottawa.
Krejci said that the injury is not related to the one that kept him out earlier this season (also upper-body). He has played in just 18 games this season with five goals and nine assists.
“I felt pretty good. It was a good day, so hopefully pretty soon,” said Krejci. “Just have to stay positive. It’s a long season, lots of games left. The season comes in February, March, April…everything bad happens for a reason, so hopefully this is it and I’ll be healthy for the rest of the season and play good hockey.”
Peter Cehlarik also skated for the first time since the lower-body injury that has kept him out since Nov. 24. The winger will travel with the team for the road trip.
“Cehlarik is cleared now to skate with the team,” said Cassidy. “There will be a certain amount of contact then he’ll have to go full practice…he’s progressing well. He’s on schedule. I think it’s five weeks Friday so he’s back skating with us. Then he’ll have to decide in the next week or so how strong it is or how well he’s feeling. Then go to the next phase.
“Tough year for him with injuries, unfortunately, but he’s working hard at it. Hopefully he gets back up to speed.”
Cehlarik’s season started late as he recovered from offseason shoulder surgery. The 22-year-old was called up from Providence in mid-November and played five games with Boston (1-1-2) before the injury against Pittsburgh.