BOSTON (CBS) – The standings show four teams separated by just seven points.
Things are so tight atop the Northeast Division, you might as well call it the “NorthBeast Division.”
However, in this pack of beasts there are a couple animals that the Bruins continue to make look like puppies. With a 3-2 shootout win in Ottawa Monday night, the Bruins once again proved they own the Ontario NHL clubs.
The Bruins even spotted Ottawa a 2-0 lead in the first eight minutes Monday. Then they chipped away and, despite losing Chris Kelly to a second-period injury, prevailed in a shootout on a goal by David Krejci.
Boston has now won the last 10 times it has visited Ottawa dating back to the Senators’ last win on April 7, 2009. That’s right, the last time the Bruins lost to the Senators, one of their goals was scored by Phil Kessel and their goaltender was Manny Fernandez. The Bruins are 10-1 in their last 11 matchups with Ottawa overall.
Famously, the Bruins have also dominated Toronto the last several years dating back to the Kessel trade. When the Bruins beat the Maple Leafs last week, they ran their record to 7-0-1 in the last eight matchups against that divisional foe.
Oddly enough, the Bruins have three losses in the divisions this season. One to Montreal, and shockingly two to Buffalo, which is in last place and basically will be a non-factor once it comes time to set up the playoff seeding.
Like Monday night’s nail-biter, the games between the Bruins, Leafs and Senators have been mostly tight affairs. But the Bruins, who’ve won the Northeast Division each of the last two seasons, continue to use their championship mettle to emerge with the two points as routinely as the sun rises.
Until the Senators and Maple Leafs figure out a way to beat the Bruins, they can’t be considered true contenders for the division title or a long playoff run. Meanwhile the Bruins, who obviously have had a harder time with Montreal than any other opponent, can get fat on their Ontario opponents and earn enough points to probably wrap up the Northeast and one of the Eastern Conference’s top two seeds.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.