BOSTON — With 20 points, the Bruins sit at the top of the Atlantic Division.
With seven, the Ottawa Senators are at the very bottom.
The Bruins face the Senators for the first time this season on Saturday night at TD Garden, and despite the points discrepancy, it’s still not a contest they are taking lightly. After all, two points on the line is still two points.
“We’ll talk about Ottawa, what they do well, what we do to counter that, where we can find areas to expose without overanalyzing,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after Friday’s practice. “We want to play our game, force them to adjust to us. But there’s always areas of the game you have to look at. As for sleeping on them, I just think our group is solid in there.”
The Bruins are one point behind the Capitals for the most in the league while the Senators’ 3-7-1 record is on par with their seemingly continuing rebuild. They were projected to finish at the bottom of the league, and so far appear on face to live up to that expectation.
That has nothing to do with the Bruins, though, and their preparation for the final game of the three-game homestand.
“(The players) know every night that two points is at stake,” said Cassidy. “There’s no easy games in this league. Some nights you just happen to fall into one. Some nights you don’t have it and the other team gets that break. Generally speaking, we approach it that way.”
Brett Ritchie missed practice with what Cassidy called a maintenance day, though he didn’t rule out the right winger missing Saturday’s game. It seems likely he’ll play, but Cassidy said any time a player misses skating the day before a contest is a concern.
“He wasn’t out there today,” he said. “So that obviously is some level of concern.”
Kevan Miller skated with the group for the second straight day wearing the red-toned non-contact jersey.
In Ritchie’s absence, defender Connor Clifton slid up to a forward role for practice. It was a temporary fix while the B’s right wing spot is in disarray – Ritchie out in addition to Karson Kuhlman and Joakim Nordstrom, along with center Par Lindhom – and doesn’t mean the second-year defenseman is about to have a position change any time soon.
“We were a little shorthanded,” said Cassidy. “(Steven Kampfer) hasn’t gotten a lot of reps with (Matt Grzelcyk). That would be his partner if he were to go in, so it kind of worked out for us that way to move somebody up.”
Clifton actually played forward a handful of times in Providence during his time in the AHL, so in an emergency, he’d likely be the guy they have to slot up in the lineup.
He was on a line with Charlie Coyle and Anders Bjork just to fill things out. Even with Miller back in the mix with the red jersey, Cassidy didn’t feel comfortable switching him to that spot.
“I don’t want to move Kevan Miller up there. Even though he’s a ways away from playing, he needs to get his reps as a D-man,” Cassidy said.