ottawa_senators_logoIt’s hard to believe that at this time last year the Ottawa Senators were sitting pretty with a 27-10-4 record. By the time last season ended, Ottawa had slid all the way to seventh in the Eastern Conference with a 43-31-8 record and were ousted in the blink of an eye in the first round of the playoffs.

The Sens’ downward spiral has carried over into this season despite a change in coach to Craig Hartsburg. Ottawa enters tonight’s tilt with the Boston Bruins at TD Banknorth Garden ranked 12th in the East. The Sens have lost 15 of their last 16 road games and are basically in shambles. Yesterday their owner even had to put out a press release denying that anyone in the organization had been fired. Now that’s bad.

So the Bruins probably couldn’t ask for a better opponent as they try to snap their two-game losing streak. Ottawa ranks 18th in goals allowed per game and 15th in penalty kill — so the Bruins should be able to get their power play cranked and get their overall offense back into gear.

Season series: The Bruins beat the Senators in Ottawa, 4-2, in the teams’ only previous meeting this year. The clubs will meet four more times this season. Boston has won the last three meetings overall and the last two played in Boston.

What they’re writing: Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun has the story on the Sens’ strange press release. Garrioch also has Jarkko Ruutu fessing up to his biting incident that brought on a two-game suspension from the NHL. Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen also has the Eugene Melnyk denial. Seems like everyone with Ottawa is either denying or fessing up.

Ottawa Player to Watch: On a team with a lot less star power than it used to have just a couple years ago, it still pays to keep an eye on Dany Heatley, who leads the Sens with 16 goals and 36 points. Sure he’s a minus-2 on the year, but watching him set up for one-timers and unleash his rocket shot can at least keep you somewhat amused. And it beats glancing at former Bruins forward Shean Donovan, an evil reminder of the forgettable “Dave Lewis Year.”