Pregame Notes: Boston vs New Jersey – 01/16/21

PHOTO CREDITS: (lynqsports.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

Following a 3-2 shootout win two nights ago, the Boston Bruins are back at it for their second game of the brand new NHL season against the New Jersey Devils. Once again, Boston will be on the road for the 1:00pm EST scheduled puck drop at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Keep the Train Moving

In the new shortened 56-game season, every single game matters – even these early ones. Bruins managed to get two points in a shootout, a rare form of victory for this Boston club, but it was evident it was the opening game of the season due to the often sloppy plays.

Brad Marchand looked great in the win, though, scoring the first goal of the season off a brilliant power-play feed from David Krejci, then assisting on Ritchie’s goal in the third period only to secure the win with a shootout goal as the final shooter. Marchand, even coming off offseason repairs, is still a dominant force early in the campaign.

Next week, the Bruins get into the tougher East Division opponents, playing the New York Islanders early in the week followed by two meetings with the dangerous Philadelphia Flyers by the week’s end. Today’s game against the Devils is big for the B’s to find their full game, perfect it a bit more, and hopefully take another two points before heading into Long Island.

Need to Stay Disciplined

During Thursday night’s game, the Bruins took five minor penalties – two of them called on defenceman Charlie McAvoy. As I said previously, it was the opening game of the season after a considerable amount of time off and a lot of changing pieces from last year. Bruins need to be better positionally to prevent having to reach with their stick, causing stick infraction penalties.

One positive to the number of penalties was the penalty-kill. Boston successfully killed all five penalties and had a few shorthanded bids as well, but anytime you are outnumbered on the ice, the chance of you scoring goes down considerably. An improvement on discipline would be huge for this team going forward.

Halak to Make Season Debut

Tuukka Rask looked to be in mid-season form, making countless game-saving stops especially in the 3-on-3 overtime frame where he made numerous breakaway saves to keep the game tied at two. However, Boston backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak will get his chance to start in between the pipes for the first time this season. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy said it was his decision on when he would get start number one.

“Jaro will go [on Saturday….we were debating whether it would be Monday…we talked about it, let’s get him in now,” said Cassidy. “It was gonna be up to Jaro whether it was gonna be [Saturday] or Monday depending on how he felt with his workload. He feels good so he’ll get in the net [Saturday].” HC Bruce Cassidy

Halak had a great 2019-20 campaign for the Black and Gold, finishing the year with an 18-6-6 record along with a .919 save percentage and a 2.39 goals-against-average in addition to three shutouts. Halak, with Rask, won the William M. Jennings Award for their play and will look to continue that performance into this new season.

Bruins Projected Lines

Marchand – Bergeron – Bjork/Studnicka
DeBrusk – Krejci – Kase
Ritchie – Coyle – Smith
Frederic – Kuraly – Wagner

Lauzon – McAvoy
Grzelcyk – Carlo
Zboril – Miller

Halak
Rask

On Friday’s practice, the Bruins ran Anders Bjork on the first-line right-wing in place of the still-injured David Pastrnak. HC Cassidy told Jack Studnicka to “not overthink things” following his demotion from the top line in Thursday’s win.

Also, free-agent acquisition Craig Smith skated on the third-line for the Bruins meaning he could potentially make his Boston debut today as well. Smith practiced with the same linemates he spent training camp with – Charlie Coyle and Nick Ritchie (who scored a power-play goal on Thursday).

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