Senators battling despite injuries

WILMINGTON, Mass -- While many pegged the Bruins (12-2-2) to be among the best in the Northeast Division, the preseason forecasts weren’t as optimistic for the Ottawa Senators (12-6-2). But despite key injuries to stars Jason Spezza (out indefinitely with a back injury), and Erik Karlsson (out at least four months with a cut Achilles tendon), the Senators find themselves tied for second with the Bruins in the Northeast with 26 points (although it should be noted the Senators have played four more games).

The Senators enter Thursday night’s game against the Bruins winner of five straight, the last two-lus without starting goalie Craig Anderson (ankle), who suffered an ankle injury Feb. 21 against the Rangers.

While Claude Julien hasn't exactly been through a stretch of injuries like Senators head coach Paul MacLean is enduring this season, he can relate and believes the Bruins and Senators win because they practice a team first mantra. In 2007-08, the Bruins battled plenty of injuries, most notable a back injury that kept center Marc Savard out for the stretch run and a concussion to Patrice Bergeron in October that forced him to miss the remainder of the season. But the Bruins persevered, finished eighth in the Eastern Conference and took the top-seeded Canadiens to seven games in the first round of the playoffs.

"That just goes to show you that it's always nice to have big star players on your team, but at the end of the day what helps you win hockey games is a team effort," Julien said. "I've always said if the effort is there, you're giving yourself a chance. So whether you have talent or you don't, if you don't put the effort in, more than not that results in a loss. I think we've built some pretty good character that year that we went through that and it's helped us out as the years progressed."

Julien is still seeing that character and team-first attitude in his squad and pointed to the end of the Bruins' 4-1 win over the Islanders on Tuesday night as an example.

"We do and it's pretty impressive the way that guys embrace each other," Julien said. "You look at [Tuesday] Chris [Kelly] could've shot the puck in the net himself and gotten his second goal -- he's only got one -- but he felt the need to look for Rich Peverley who has been a little snakebitten lately -- and because of that he didn't score -- but it says a lot about the way guys think of each other and I think that's really helped us along here being a solid team."