Tonight the Boston Bruins host the Ottawa Senators for the last time of the regular season prior to the chase for the Stanley Cup. Currently Boston needs a victory and for the Montreal Canadiens to lose tonight in order to take over the lead in the Northeast Division and at least a single point to clinch a playoff spot.
All season long the injury-plagued Senators have been an issue for the Bruins as they bring a strong offensive front and confident defensive core to the game. They recently strengthened their offense in acquiring Tampa forward Cory Conacher for goaltender Ben Bishop prior to the trade deadline. His addition to the Senators lineup will most certainly pose a threat to a Boston club that has been struggling to find their defensive game through the past 12 games.
Tonight the Bruins will be sporting some line changes yet again in the expected return of Patrice Bergeron. After the team’s morning skate Bergeron stated:
“[I] want to get back out there, feel good, feel confident-we’re taking time and there’s a reason for that, so I’m not hesitant and feel good.” (via NHLBruins)
In addition to Patrice Bergeron in the lineup, the Bruins will also welcome defenseman Dougie Hamilton as well after he sat the past two games as a healthy scratch for a stretch of 5 days. It is expected that he will be rested and ready for what the Senators have in store for tonight. It was reported this morning that defenseman Andrew Ference will get the nod to sit out, serving as the veteran’s first missed game all season, keeping rookie Matt Bartkowski in. Bartkowski has been a breath of fresh air for the Bruins through the past three games, showing a strong net front presence and earning a pair of assists through the past 8 games straight with an average of over 13 minutes of ice time.
“He’s skating and he’s been pretty good. He’s playing with a lot of confidence and he’s stronger. Not because he wasn’t strong before, but because he’s got the confidence to play a stronger game,” said Claude Julien. “He’s not afraid to skate with the puck and make plays. That’s why he continues to be on our lineup right now.” (via CSNNE.com)
Tuukka Rask is going to be between the pipes tonight for the Bruins, earning his third consecutive start. Rask is looking to bounce back with a victory after the team dropped to the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday night 4-2. The goaltender currently ranks among the leagues’ top goaltenders with a 1.99 goals against average and .929 save percentage.
Tonight’s game can be seen on NESN, finally no more of the NESN-plus or NBC Sports Network coverage, or you can listen to the game on 98.5 the Sports Hub.