(Photo credit: Bob DeChiara USA TODAY Sports)

By Andrew Taverna | Follow me on Twitter @andrewtaverna

The Boston Bruins will play hockey tonight for the first time since exiting the bubble. Set to face off against the New Jersey Devils at 7:00 PM EST, the Bruins will be looking to come out to a fast start. Game one of this shortened 56 game season will be critical to setting a tone against a team they will face seven other times, including a Saturday afternoon matinee. 

Been A Long Time Coming

Newly appointed Captain Patrice Bergeron met with the media to give an update on how he and the team are feeling. “Looking forward to it. Been a long time coming. Since the bubble, it’s been a long offseason. That being said, it’s a bit of a shorter camp so it’s great to be able to get going right away and get on the road and start playing some games. A little different with the fact that we haven’t had preseason.” With this attitude, the Bruins are poised to be off to a hot start, and Bergeron gets that. “With a shortened season and lots of games, the start is gonna be really important…we’re definitely aware of that but we also know that there is gonna be some new lines, some new players and we need to make sure we find some chemistry, lots of communication and be ready for that and make sure we stay the course during that time.”

The Bruins are entering the season as a favorite to be in the top two of their extremely competitive division. It sounds like the organization is fully committed to every point mattering. With that in mind, the Bruins have a few key things to keep an eye on tonight.

Upcoming Hurtles

The Bruins announced today that both Brad Marchand and Craig Smith are game-time decisions. Marchand, who has been limited with his time on ice during this shortened camp, did say he was “ready to go” and practiced in full today. On the other hand, Smith (lower-body) was a bit more of a surprise and, according to Cassidy, tweaked something earlier in the week while practicing. If either player is unable to go tonight, it sounds like Trent Frederic would get the nod in their place. 

The Other Side of the Puck

The Devils have had a massive shakeup in management this offseason, with their new General Manager Tom Fitzerald coming in and a new head coach, a familiar name, Lindy Ruff. Last year, the Devils finished last in the Metropolitan Division, missing the bubble with only 68 points in 69 games. 

The Devils, not surprisingly, have announced that Mackenzie Blackwood would get the start in nets. Blackwood, who had a 22-14-8 record last season, will look to be the main man after the surprise announcement of Corey Crawford’s retirement. 

Projected Boston Bruins Lineup

Assuming Marchand can play, the possible lineup is as follows:

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Jack Studnicka
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Ondrej Kase
Nick Ritchie – Charlie Coyle – Craig Smith/Trent Frederic
Anders Bjork – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner

Jeremy Lauzon – Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk – Brandon Carlo
Jakub Zboril – Kevan Miller

Tuukka Rask
Jaroslav Halak