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Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Bruins return to action vs. Senators

By Joe McDonald

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins return from the All-Star break and will host the Ottawa Senators Tuesday night at TD Garden.

Even though the Bruins are 2-0 versus the Senators already this season, Ottawa still presents a big challenge. The Senators are currently ranked sixth in the Eastern Conference, only four points behind the second-place Bruins. The Senators are 13-10-5 on the road this season.

They’re led by veterans Daniel Alfredsson (17 goals and 21 assists) and Jason Spezza (20 goals and 30 assists), while goaltender Craig Anderson has posted a 25-16-4 record with a 2.90 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.

Bruins coach Claude Julien credits Ottawa coach Paul MacLean for brining the Senators together as a team and building strong chemistry.

“You can see it in their play,” Julien said. “They play hard and they don’t hang their heads, they compete hard and if they weren’t a happy group, at one point you would see them let their game slip away, but they don’t.”

The Senators have exceeded expectations this season to a lot of people, but Julien said he’s not surprised by Ottawa’s success.

“It may be a surprise for a lot of people where they are, but I would tell you right now that they’re the real deal,” Julien said.

The Bruins defeated the Senators 5-3 on Nov. 1 and 5-2 on Dec. 14 this season. Beginning Tuesday night, the teams meet four more times this season.

“I see a hardworking team that’s pretty well coached with a goalie who is fairly hot this year,” said Bruins forward Shawn Thornton. “I played with him in the minors and when he’s on, he’s on. They’re definitely not sneaking up on anybody any more. It’s going to be a good for us coming out of the break.”