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Thursday, April 6, 2017

No Way the B's Want to Play the Sens Again After They Got Swept In the 4-Game Season Series

I think that a few things are nearly certain if the Senators (43-27-10) and Bruins (44-30-7) should meet in the first round of the NHL playoffs starting next week: 1) Boston will have their hands full after Ottawa recorded the first season sweep (4-0) of them in franchise history with a 2-1 shootout win at TD Garden tonight; 2) the games will be close and painfully boring given the neutral zone trap that the Senators love to employ ad nauseum. Ottawa clinched a playoff berth this evening and also jumped Boston to take over second-place in the Atlantic Division. The Senators are up a point on the Bruins and they have a game in hand; the B's can only earn second-place by beating Washington (54-18-8) in Saturday's (3, NBC) regular season finale while also having Ottawa go no better than 0-1-1 in their last two contests.

Toronto (39-26-15) lost 4-1 to Tampa Bay (40-30-10) meaning that the Leafs are stuck in the second Wild Card spot. Toronto has a game in hand on Boston as well but they trail by two points so a Bruins win on Saturday would seal their fate (a 1st round matchup with Washington barring a miracle by the Lightning or Islanders who are still barely alive). Brad Marchand was suspended for two games by the NHL this afternoon so this is the first matchup that he sat out. Boston also lost defenseman Torey Krug to an injury (he was spotted in a knee brace leaving the Garden) early in the first period and needless to say they could have used both of those fast and skilled guys against Ottawa.

The Senators have resembled a war movie in terms of injuries this season as defensemen Marc Methot and Erik Karlsson were both out tonight along with right wing Bobby Ryan. Boston's point-streak extended to seven games (6-0-1) but their win season-best win streak was snapped at six games. During that run, Boston had only trailed for a grand total of 36 seconds so it was a good sign when Drew Stafford wrapped around the net for a power play goal (5th game in a row that they've bagged at least 1) at 10:37 of the first period. Zdeno Chara (4-game point streak) had the lone assist on Stafford's eighth goal of the season (his 4th as a Bruin). Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson (28 saves) looked silly on that goal but true to form this season, the Bruins couldn't beat him after that-they've scored six total goals in the four losses to the Senators.

Former Canucks dirtbag turned Senators trade deadline pickup Alex Burrows scored the tying goal at 7:37 of the second period. Adam McQuaid coughed the puck up right to him and he was able to wire it in past a screened Tuukka Rask (25 saves). Making Ottawa play from behind is what you want to do but Boston has failed to do that collectively for hardly any time this season. When it's tied up or even worse, when the Senators are in front, it is exceedingly difficult to recover since you naturally get frustrated and mentally taken out of your game. After Boston outshot Ottawa 15-10 in a wide-open first period (when they should have scored more than 1 goal), the shots were even at seven in the second and then the Senators choked them out in a sleepy third (7-3). Boston woke up in overtime (the 1st time they'd ever gone to an extra session under Bruce Cassidy) but they couldn't end it there.

Boston fell to 2-3 in shootouts this season while Ottawa improved to 6-4. Stafford, Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak (who was stopped on a breakaway in the 2nd period) all were denied by Anderson. Rask allowed a goal to Kyle Turris (which turned out to be the game-winner) and stopped Derick Brassard. The Bruins will be trying to get home ice on Saturday not to mention avoid the death trap of having to face the Caps in the first round. Washington has already clinched the Presidents' Trophy (best record in the NHL) so that tilt shouldn't mean a damn thing to them. It's easy to picture Washington fielding a lineup of many AHL call-ups and their guys that are normally scratched with hopefully Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby among other stars resting. The B's can only worry about themselves as they have no time to sit any key players (especially with Marchand and probably Krug out) with plenty left to play for.

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