ottawa_senators_logoBOSTON — For the first time since 1996, the Ottawa Senators will not be in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Too many questionable personnel moves have finally caught up to Ottawa. I mean investing millions in Martin Gerber, letting Zdeno Chara leave for nothing, trading Martin Havlat … it’s been a rough few years for the team that still reached the 2006 Stanley Cup final. But the Sens are now paying for their success.

As they arrive at TD Banknorth Garden for their tilt with the Boston Bruins tonight, the Sens have finally been mathematically eliminated. But that might not be to the Bruins’ advantage. After all, the Sens are going to start looking toward next season. That means rookies trying to get a headstart on training camp and veterans trying to either earn a chance to stay or impress other teams that will be shopping for free agents.

Winners of five in a row, the Bruins probably need another team to challenge them. Just like Tampa Bay Tuesday, Ottawa should come out with an edge. And the last thing the Bruins need as they inch closer to clinching the top seed in the Eastern Conference and tune up for the playoffs is a patsy. The Bruins are at their best when they push and get pushed back.

Season series: The Bruins are 4-0-0 against the Sens this year and have won six in a row vs. Ottawa overall.

What they’re writing: Interim head coach Cory Clouston wants his team to finish strong. The Sens can expect a visit from owner Eugene Melnyk next week.

Ottawa player to watch: One of those young players who’ll want to continue to make an impression as the Sens play out the string is forward Ryan Shannon. The former Boston College captain seems to have finally found a home after he was traded a few times. Shannon has at least one point in six straight games and 4-4-8 totals over that span. For the season, the speedy winger has posted 8-11-19 totals in 29 games.