If you’ve ever read any of my Tweets, you know I’ve always cheered for Northeast Division teams. (Unless they’re playing the Bruins.) I’ve also commented that the two teams that I think have the ‘nicest’ fans in the NHL are the fans of the Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators. I’ve argued that they’re the nicest bunch of fans you can ever have a beer with and disagree about hockey. Tonight, we’ll be disagreeing heavily as the Ottawa Senators and the Boston Bruins meet up in the TD Garden tonight for their first game of the season.
I bleed black and gold, but you’ve got to give it to the Senators. The Senators are currently 12-6-2. This Ottawa club has been playing through a season of injuries. Play makers like Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza are likely sidelined for the season, while Milan Michalek will miss another game tonight. Michalek, who led the Senators with 35 goals last season, practiced Wednesday but isn’t quite ready to return. The Senators’ lead goaltender Craig Anderson was also injured last week and is likely not to play. In spite of this, that team has dug down deep.
This Senators squad have kept on winning. They’ve won five in a row fielding an improvised squad that has more than a few AHL players in the mix. They even did us a favor by beating the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 in a shootout. (Any loss to the Habs is a friend of ours.) Senators head coach Paul MacLean said of the Sens current streak. “It’s not always pretty, but the structure of our team and the work ethic of our team and our goaltending has certainly come to the forefront, and we’re finding a way to win.”
The Boston Bruins have been playing with a healthy squad for practically the entire season. We’re 12-2-2, and we’ve got one of the best teams in the NHL. The Bruins versatility means that Claude Julien can throw practically any of our forwards out together and they’ll create scoring opportunities. Brad Marchand has already plunked in ten goals and will likely score tonight. The NHL’s current top sniper will find away to get one through the net for us. Patrice Bergeron, one of the best two way players in the league, (and last year’s Selkie winner) will be someone to fear on the penalty kill. (The best in the NHL at 95.1%)
The Bruins have had a few opportunities of their own this year. The team’s scoring has only started to come into full gear, and expecting producers like Tyler Seguin and Chris Kelly have not been done as well as hoped. The Bruins also have their power play. The Bruins are 0 for 23 on the power play at home. In the B’s-Islanders game, anytime the Islanders wanted to re-direct the momentum of the game, it seemed like they took a penalty. I know Coach Julien has addressed both concerns in the past, and is working on correcting them.
Both teams have decent win streaks on the line tonight, and it should be a lot of good old school hockey tonight. Whoever wins tonight will have sole possession of second place in the Division and will be only one point behind the Montreal Canadiens. The puck drops at 7:00 PM, and let’s go Bruins!