Looking ahead to pretty much any week for any NHL team with this convoluted regular season schedule be intimidating, but the Bruins are about to embark on undoubtedly their toughest seven days of 2013; five games including three road games and two back-to-backs. The week starts with back-to-back games, Monday at Ottawa and Tuesday at Pittsburgh then wraps up with a matinee at TD Garden vs. Washington on Saturday and a St. Patrick’s Day afternoon meeting back in Pittsburgh.
It’s exhausting just looking at these games on paper let alone actually playing in them. Like any good head coach, however, Claude Julien wasn’t looking too far ahead (or at least pretended not to) when he said after Saturday’s 3-0 win over Philadelphia that “we’ve got a busy week now, then the week after as well. The whole month and a half that is remaining is going to be that way.”
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Boston (16-3-3) has taken advantage of a relatively easy schedule to start this 48-game slate as it has played an NHL-low 22 games. They are only one point behind Montreal (who has three games in hand) for first place in the Eastern Conference.
Backup goaltender Anton Khudobin (4-1-0) figures to make two starts this week with Julien preferring to sit starter Tuukka Rask (12-2-3) once during back-to-backs. Forward Jordan Caron was called up on Friday and don’t be surprised if the usual healthy scratches, wingers Jay Pandolfo and Lane MacDermid, along with defenseman Aaron Johnson also see some action since some players are bound to get banged up in this brutal stretch.
Boston usually shows up for its biggest games and no question, this week offers solid challenges with a game at Ottawa (a Northeast Division foe) and the pair in Pittsburgh (the No. 2 team in the Eastern Conference that they have yet to play this season).
“The next two games are going to be very tough. Ottawa, who is playing extremely well (6-2-2 in their last 10) and Pittsburgh on the road, we’ll need the kind of game we played on Saturday to win those,” added Julien.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate