The Ottawa Senators will take on their most likely first round playoff opponents Thursday night when the Boston Bruins roll into town, but those hoping for a preview of what is to come in the coming week may be a bit disappointed.
Paul MacLean has decided to give his number one goaltender the night off with rookie back-up Ben Bishop returning to the Senators line up after being on the shelf for 10 days with a lower body injury. This is a smart move by the rookie coach to get his back up some game action before the playoffs start. Anything can happen in a seven game series, and if Bishop is called upon Ottawa will need him to be sharp coming off the bench.
Sergei Gonchar is expected to draw back into the line up after missing Tuesday’s game versus the Carolina Hurricanes with a lower body ailment. Either Matt Carkner, or Matt Gilroy will have a seat in favour of the wily veteran. I would expect it to be Gilroy sitting down as Carkner’s toughness will be a key for Ottawa against the Bruins.
With second place locked up, and nothing left to play for this is a smart move by the Bruins even if it upsets the fans in Ottawa who bought tickets for this game hoping to see fireworks as the two teams head into the playoffs.
There is still a distinct possibility that a message or two will be sent with players like Chris Neil and Carkner skating for Ottawa, and Milan Lucic and Shawn Thornton suiting up for the champs there will be no lack of muscle on the ice, and the combustible elements will be in place for what could be a wild game.