Pregame Notes: Bruins vs Devils – 03/30/21

(Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter @zcarlone21

Continuing the trend of failing to find consistency has been the reoccurring theme for the Bruins this season. They haven’t been able to solve goaltenders, put the other team on their heels, or capitalize on golden opportunities, and it’s cost them plenty over the month of March. They dropped their latest game to the New Jersey Devils on Sunday evening by a score of 1-0. The Bruins continue their busy stretch of hockey with a rematch against the Devils on home ice tonight. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm EST.

Marchand, Carlo Return

Using a shorthanded lineup for the past weekend, the Bruins are now expected to welcome back a few key faces ahead of tonight’s game. Forward Brad Marchand, who was on the COVID Protocol List for the last two Bruins games, practiced this morning and is expected to be taken off the list and play tonight. The Bruins went 1-1-0 without him in the lineup and scored a total of three goals as a team, all coming in Saturday’s win against the Buffalo Sabres.

The Bruins are also expecting defenseman Brandon Carlo back in the lineup. Carlo hadn’t played since March 5th against the Washington Capitals, when Capitals forward Tom Wilson elbowed Carlo in the head and earned himself a 7-game suspension as a result. With Carlo expected to slot in on the second defense pair with Matt Grzelcyk, the Bruins defense is the strongest it’s ever been since the beginning portions of this season.

Five on Five Struggles

The Bruins were held off of the scoresheet for the fourth time this season in their loss to the Devils on Sunday. They also lost to the Devils 1-0 on March 7th. In five games against the Devils this season, the Bruins have a combined five goals across those games. It’s not enough to get the job done against a team that the Bruins shouldn’t be having so much trouble with. The Bruins leading point-getters should be dancing all over the Devils, who currently sit in sixth place in the MassMutual East Division. The Bruins are ranked 22nd in the league in goals per game this season with a bitter tally of 2.61.

The Bruins are really only scratching the surface of what their offense can produce. Just trying to squeak by close games hasn’t been enough. The best part of their game is their penalty kill, ranked best in the league at 89.2%. Their power play, however, with an extremely talented first unit, has swooped to the 13th-best league-wide, tied with the Buffalo Sabres. Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron hasn’t scored a goal since March 11th and has gotten two points total since that game. The Bruins fearless leader should be setting the example to get rid of the Bruins scoring woes.

Heat on Halak

With Tuukka Rask dealing with yet another injury already expected to keep him out for the upcoming week, the Bruins will once again turn to goaltender Jaroslav Halak to lead the charge. Per head coach Bruce Cassidy, Halak and fellow goaltender Dan Vladar, who’s 2-0-0 in his first NHL season so far, are expected to split the duties this week. Halak started the season strong, serving as Rask’s complement, and now the pressure is on for him to keep doing what he’s doing with the hope of collecting more victories.

On the season, Halak has a record of 7-5-3 with a GAA of 2.17 and a save percentage of .919. Halak’s high loss count doesn’t rest on his shoulders as much as the numbers tell, as the Bruins offense hasn’t been able to bail him out enough. With a deep hunger to earn a victory against the Devils for the first time since January 14th, expect Halak to be ready to roll with a healthier lineup in front of him.

Bruins Projected Lineup

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Ritchie – Krejci – Smith

Bjork – Coyle – Senyshyn

Blidh – Frederic – Kuhlman

Lauzon – McAvoy

Grzelcyk – Carlo

Zboril – Clifton

Halak

Vladar

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