KANATA, ON The Bruins made their statements about Thursday nights game when they left Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Tim Thomas back in Boston rather than place their key players in the final road game of the season. Boston has earned the right to fully prepare for the playoffs by capturing the No. 2 seed, and now theyre setting everything into motion.
The aim is to get everyone in a Black and Gold uniform well-rested and healthy for the seemingly inevitable first round matchup between Boston and Ottawa, and that includes making it through Thursday night healthy. Ottawa needs one more point to lock up the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference and they also will certainly be looking to make a statement against a Bruins team thats dominated while taking four out of five against them this season.
If we take the approach to the playoffs that teams will roll over then wed be in some big trouble," said Kelly. "The regular season is the regular season, and the playoffs are a whole different beast. Youve seen it in the past where a team has done extremely well against a team during the regular season, and then it goes the other way during the playoffs. The regular season gets thrown out the window after Saturday.
The Senators will be looking to ride the momentum of their last win, a tight 1-0 affair, over the Bruins at TD Garden, and harness the kind of effort and intensity they showed in the final period played at Scotiabank Place. Thats when Chris Neil trucked Johnny Boychuk with one of the hardest hockey hits seen anywhere this season, and Kyle Turris threw a very questionable hit at Joe Corvo.
It wouldnt shock or stun to see any of that coming from an underdog Sens team that wants to be taken seriously, or from a Bruins team thats just looking to get out of Ottawa with their roster entirely intact.
Its important to stay sharp. You dont want your intensity to drop because its tough to turn it on once its been shut off, said Mike Mottau. We want to play well structurally and play strong. Thats the best way to end the season feeling about where our game is going. You can send a message by simply imposing your will and playing with strength in a game like this.
PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: Apparently somebody needs to start doing some PR work for Mike Mottau so he can earn himself a proper spot in Bostons lineup headed into the playoffs. The local hockey standout has been rock-steady since arriving in Boston from the Islanders organization, and should have a place at the table for the playoffs with injuries beginning to erode Bostons defensemen depth. Mottau will get another chance to state his playoff case Thursday night against Ottawa, and has formed together with Greg Zanon nicely as a defensemen duo.
DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: Its not a playoff preview because theres nothing confirmed yet. The one thing I can tell you is that you dont win in this league by simply showing up. We dont talk about speculation. I wont get into it until its confirmed. Im not wasting my time worrying about that until its confirmed. Claude Julien didnt want to answer any questions about Thursday night as a potential playoff preview between the Bruins and Senators.
KEY MATCHUP: Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza have combined for 11 points in nine games against the Bruins this season, and will be the deadly offensive duo in any playoff series. Normally it would be Zdeno Charas job to shut down Ottawas top line, but now that will likely fall to Dennis Seidenberg and a defenseman to be named later. Watching Anton Khudobin face an NHL lineup for the first time in a couple of years should be enlightening when starting to formulate some postseason ideas.
STAT TO WATCH: 1 the number of NHL fights for Lane MacDermid after tangling with Mike Rupp of the New York Rangers earlier this season. Theres a good possibility Chris Neil could come calling tonight.
INJURIES: Tuukka Rask (groin strainabdomen strain) and Nathan Horton (mild concussion) are long term injuries for the Bruins, but Rask hit the ice Wednesday with an eye toward returning for the playoffs. Johnny Boychuk is out with a mildly sprained left knee. Adam McQuaid has missed three games with a left laceration, but skated in pregame warm-ups at Scotiabank Place. The Ottawa Senators appear relatively healthy at this point in time.
GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Anton Khudobin will be making his first NHL appearance with the Boston Bruins in his second season of duty with the Black and Gold. Khudobin is a 25-year-old native of Kazakhstan that has settled in as the No. 3 goaltender on the organizational depth chart, and many within the Bs organization feel hes a late-blooming, puck-stopping talent. He may be in line for the backup role for the playoffs if Tuukka Rask isnt ready to play. Ben Bishop will be getting the start for the Senators and the 6-foot-7 goaltender is hoping to show the Ottawa coaching staff that his lingering groin issues have abated just in time for the postseason.