BOSTON — This is the time to pad the lead.
The Boston Bruins go into tonight’s match-up with the Ottawa Senators at TD Banknorth Garden just six points ahead for the lead in the Eastern Conference. But the normally unforgiving NHL schedule provides a rare dull point here with the Senators and then the New York Islanders (Saturday) coming to town.
Neither team has playoff aspirations at this point of the season. And although the Senators have won four in a row, they’ve done so against other non-playoff and bubble teams. The Senators proved they were looking more toward the future (finally) when they traded away Antoine Vermette on deadline day. Of course, they never seem to commit to a rebuild. At this point, you’d expect to see more kids in their lineup than just Brian Lee and Peter Regin. But maybe they’re just trying to fake a playoff run for another couple weeks.
From the Bruins perspective, there’s no better time than the present to get their game back on track after losing five of their last six. Somehow, someway the Bruins have to find some offensive consistency. That might mean line juggling, it might mean the addition of someone like Matt Hunwick into the lineup, or it might just mean the Bruins focusing a little more when they’re battling in the trenches of the other team’s zone. One way or another, the Bruins have to find a way to light the lamp more consistently to prove that general manager Peter Chiarelli didn’t under-reach when he failed to add a big-time scorer at the trade deadline.
Season series: The Bruins are 3-0-0 against Ottawa this season, with two more games head-to-head remaining on the schedule after tonight. Marc Savard has recorded six points (one goal) against the Sens.
Ottawa players to watch: At this point of the season, I’m not interested in the Sens’ on-ice exploits. But between Fisher (Carrie Underwood) and center Mike Comrie (Hilary Duff), the Sens lead the league in celebrity girlfriends. Will one or both show up at the Garden tonight? A sportswriter can only hope so. Fans might want to scan the stands as well for a site of at least one of the two singing beauties.