Here's your Bruins-Senators preview as the B's regroup in Boston after the Christmas break to get their first crack at a Stanley Cup Playoffs rematch with the Ottawa Senators. The Sens get the Bruins as the home team is firing on all cylinders amid their hottest streak of the season.
Since losing their fourth straight game on Nov. 15 against the Ducks, the Bruins have gone 13-3-1 in their last 17. They're riding a four-game winning streak after taking care of business against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.
Key to the Bruins' recent surge has been the play in net. Tuukka Rask has overcome his early-season woes as the B's have gone 8-0-1 in his last nine starts. He earned the NHL's First Star of the Week honors after going 3-0 with a 1.54 goals against average and .954 save percentage in his last three starts.
Backup goalie Anton Khudobin has also been solid, posting a 5-2 record with a .924 save percentage in seven appearances since Nov. 15. He most recently pitched a shutout with 36 saves against the Buffalo Sabres on Dec. 19.
Bruins-Senators: What's Up With Ottawa?
-- The Senators are going in the complete opposite direction from the Bruins. Since beating the Avalanche on Nov. 11, they've gone 3-12-3. In that span, they've scored the fewest goals in the NHL (33) and allowed the fifth-most (60).
-- Conspicuously enough, the Sens' recent tanking started shortly after they traded center Kyle Turris to the Nashville Predators in a three-team deal that brought them forward Matt Duchene from the Avs.
-- Spoiler alert: the change of scenery has not been kind to Duchene. He has just two goals and five points in 18 games with the Senators. Mark Stone leads all Sens scorers since Nov. 16 with 12 points in his last 18 games.
-- Stalwart defenseman Erik Karlsson (and the rest of the Senators team) isn't having the kind of defensive success he had last season, but he's still putting up good scoring numbers as the best offensive blue liner in the league. He has three goals and 23 points in 29 games this season after missing the first five contests due to his recovery from offseason foot surgery. He has two goals and six points (but a minus-5) in his last nine.
Meanwhile, in Boston...
-- Brad Marchand is riding a hot streak of his own. He's scored seven goals and 17 points in 12 games since returning from an undisclosed injury.
-- Winger Danton Heinen has been a pleasant surprise and a fixture in the Bruins lineup since late October. He's scored four goals and 10 points in his last 10 games and played a solid 200-foot game with new linemates David Backes and Riley Nash. He's projected for 60 points over the course of an 82-game season. However, he's put up zero points and a minus-2 rating in his last two.
-- Speaking of Backes, he welcomed his second child to the world on Saturday. Congrats to the Backes family on the birth of their son Dawson Michael Backes!
We welcomed our new addition this morning at 1:12am. Dawson Michael Backes. 8 lbs 9 oz. Mom is an absolute warrior and I have never been more proud of someone. By far the toughest in the family. pic.twitter.com/s4fkkb0Lpg
— David Backes (@dbackes42) December 23, 2017
-- Rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy has been impressive pretty much all season, but he's gone to another level over the course of the Bruins' recent hot streak. That's no coincidence. He has four goals and 11 points to go with a plus-14 rating in his lat 17 games. The 20-year-old has also mixed in a game-winning goal (technically) and a "Gordie Howe Hat Trick" in a blowout win over the Blue Jackets and a shootout winner over the Jets last Thursday.
-- The Bruins have six prospects who made the final rosters of their respective countries in the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship. Trent Frederic, Ryan Lindgren, and Jeremy Swayman represent the United States, while Joona Koppanen and Urho Vaakanainen made Team Finland, and Oskar Steen made Team Sweden.
-- If not for the abysmal Buffalo Sabres (25 points), the Senators (11-15-8) would be in the basement of the Eastern Conference. The Bruins, however, sit comfortably in third place in the Atlantic Division with a 19-10-5 record and 43 points. They have a seven-point lead over the Canadiens (16-16-4) for that spot, currently the sixth seed in the East.
-- The Sens obviously beat the Bruins 4-2 in last April's first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But it's worth noting that they were also 4-0 against the B's in the 2016-17 regular season. The Bruins still have to reverse those negative trends - but it sure looks like they can get that started on Wednesday. Considering the recent performance of both teams, this is as winnable a game as the Bruins have faced all season.
-- By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff.