Bruins Game 21 Preview: New Jersey Devils

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

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

It was a rough week for the Boston Bruins last week, but their back-to-back set of games on Friday and Saturday made up for it somewhat. The Bruins ended their four-game losing streak Friday with a 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs and then went on to earn a point after having the game tied with less than a minute to go in regulation, followed by a shootout loss to the Washington Capitals. Through the first 20 games, the Bruins are third in the NHL with a record of 12-3-5.

New Jersey added some bigger names to their franchise over the offseason, but unfortunately for them, it has not payed off as we enter the second quarter of the 2019-20 season. The Devils sit as the 13th-best team in the Eastern Conference with a combined record of 7-8-4 through the first 19 games. New Jersey has the second-worst goal differential in the conference, (-19), but is in the midst of a two-game winning streak.

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Tuukka Rask 8-2-2 2.14 GAA .927 SV% Last Game: 29 Saves in 4-2 win vs TOR

NJD: Mackenzie Blackwood 7-4-3 2.79 GAA .904 SV% Last Game: 31 Saves in 4-3 OT win vs MTL

Who’s Hot:

Charlie McAvoy has not been great offensively for the Boston Bruins so far this season, especially considering he just extended his contract with the organization this past summer. However, in the back-to-back, McAvoy’s game was the best it has been all season with the culmination being against the Capitals on Saturday. The 21-year-old defenceman put up two assists in 23:23 of ice-time, but was easily the best blueliner on the defensive side of the ice for the Bruins and did a great job in all facets.

Blake Coleman possesses some of the most underrated speed in the NHL for a depth player and seemingly at any time he can put on the jets towards the net and has a couple slick one-handed goals because of it. Coleman only has 4-3-7 numbers in 19 games played for New Jersey this year, but he has points in each of his last three games, scoring 1-2-3 totals in that time span. For a struggling Devils team, this is a bright spot.

Tuukka Rask will get the start tonight in New Jersey for the Bruins and after two regulation losses back-to-back, he rebounded great with a 29-save performance in Friday’s victory over the Maple Leafs in Toronto. Rask still has an impressive 2019-2020 stat line with a 2.14 goals-against-average and a .927 save percentage in 12 games. Rask will look to win his second-consecutive start tonight.

Who’s Not:

Being drafted first-overall in any draft usually means that the expectations for your rookie season is higher than anyone else and for forward Jack Hughes, those expectations were through the roof at the start of the regular season, but the 18-year-old Orlando, Florida native has only 4-6-10 points in 19 games and has only one point in his last five games. Hughes has seen his ice-time decrease over these last five games and it will be interesting to see how it plays out against the Bruins.

There are not any Bruins who are “cold” at the moment, even though they recently had a four-game losing skid. Boston has looked pretty good on all four offensive lines and all three defensive pairings, but the biggest issue for them is playing a full 60-minute hockey game. Failing to play all three periods with equal intensity has cost them points and games over the past couple weeks and it is fair to assume that the coaching staff is working to end that.

Milestone Watch:

Boston Bruins:

  • F Charlie Coyle is three goals away (97) from 100 career NHL goals
  • F Brad Marchand is two goals away (275) from tying Wayne Cashman (277) for 8th-most goals in Bruins history
  • F Patrice Bergeron* is one even-strength goal away (214) from passing Cam Neely (214) for sole possession of 6th-most even-strength goals in Bruins history
  • F Patrice Bergeron* is one power-play goal away (99) from 100 career power-play goals

*As of 11:35am EST, Bergeron remains a game-time decision to play against NJD.

New Jersey Devils:

  • F Blake Coleman is playing in his 200th career NHL regular-season game

Bruins vs Devils Outlook:

The 2019-2020 NHL regular-season officially reached the quarter mark and already, the points are starting to matter. Each and every missed chance for two points can comeback to haunt a team in March and April so these games have a level of importance to them. Boston has already matched up with New Jersey this season, defeating them 3-0 in Boston’s home-opener back on October 12th.

As previously mentioned, the Bruins are near the top of the standings in both the Eastern Conference and the entire league. However, with the recent rise of the Montreal Canadiens and Florida Panthers, the Bruins do not have a massive lead for first place in the Atlantic Division. With games against the Buffalo Sabres, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, and New York Rangers to close out the month of November, wins over teams like the Devils will become huge when the schedule becomes more difficult.

Without Torey Krug in the lineup, the Bruins power-play has struggled just a little bit, but still holds the third-best percentage in the league at an impressive 28.1%. Boston’s penalty-kill remains in the top-half of the NHL, killing off 83.3% of their penalties for 12th in the league. New Jersey is on the complete opposite of the spectrum. The Devils have the 5th-worst power-play success rate at 14.3% and 9th-worst penalty-kill at 75.8%.

Bruins Morning Rushes:

Yesterday, Head Coach Bruce Cassidy said that forwards Patrice Bergeron (lower-body), Jake DeBrusk (lower-body) and Brett Ritchie (upper-body) were considered “game-time decisions” and as of 12:00pm EST, no further word has been made on their status for the game against the New Jersey Devils. If all three do return, the Bruins will likely roll the lines listed above.

Puck drop from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey is scheduled for 7:00pm EST.

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Bruins Game 65 Preview: New Jersey Devils

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PHOTO CREDITS: (CBS Local – New York)

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

The Boston Bruins have taken the Eastern Conference by storm in the past few weeks, earning a point in their last fifteen games and did not lose a single regulation game in the entire month of February. The Bruins’ recent hot-streak has given them a three-point lead on the Toronto Maple Leafs for second in the Atlantic division.

With the loss of Taylor Hall (knee surgery), the chances of the New Jersey Devils making the Stanley Cup Playoffs have decreased to the point where it’s hard to see them making a push. Having lost two games in a row, the Devils are seventeen points out of the playoffs right now with a 25-32-8 record for 58 points so far.

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Tuukka Rask 21-8-5 2.36 GAA .920 SV% Last Game: 20 Saves in 4-1 win vs TBL

NJD: Mackenzie Blackwood 6-5-0 2.35 GAA .928 SV% Last Game: 33 Saves in 2-1 loss vs CGY

Who’s Hot

Tuukka Rask has been lights out for the Bruins and it may be part of the reason for the upgraded level of confidence and in turn, success for Boston lately. Rask only faced twenty-one shots against the best team in the NHL, the Tampa Bay Lightning, but he stopped all but one and looked pretty solid on those few shots. Rask has a point in each of his last sixteen starts.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Sportsnet.ca)

Damon Severson is by far the best Devils defenceman right now, coming off of a 1-2-3 night in the loss to the Philadelphia Flyers last night. The 24-year-old, Melville, Saskatchewan, Canada native has 9-24-33 numbers in sixty-five games for New Jersey this season.

David Krejci has had a solid year this season, finding chemistry with young forward Jake DeBrusk and more recently, trade deadline acquisition, Marcus Johansson on the Bruins second line. Krejci has 15-40-55 totals in 64 games in 2018-19 and has six points in his last five, including a three-assist night in the win against San Jose on February 18th.

Who’s Not

33-year-old Travis Zajac has already surpassed his point totals from last season, but he has struggled this year on the defensive side of the puck. In his last four games, Zajac has one point and a combined -6 rating, averaging just around nineteen minutes per game. With Taylor Hall out of the lineup, Zajac needs to be more responsible defensively but still accumulate the points.

Joakim Nordstrom will play on the Bruins’ fourth-line tonight, but the Swedish forward has not scored a point in twenty consecutive games and finished the entire month of February pointless. Nordstrom has 2-5-7 numbers on the year, but both he and the Bruins expect more from him as the playoff push becomes more and more nerve-racking.

Nico Hischier was the 1st Overall Pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, but the 21-year-old forward has not scored a goal in the last seven games, only producing two assists in that time span as well. Hischier is being relied on by the Devils to score points without Hall, but he too is having troubles doing so. However, he is only eight points away from tying his numbers from last season – his debut NHL year.

Milestone Watch:

Boston Bruins:

  • F Patrice Bergeron is one point away (792) from tying Wayne Cashman (793) for 6th most points in Bruins history
  • D Zdeno Chara is one goal away (199) from 200 career NHL goals
  • F Brad Marchand is one short-handed goal away (25) from passing Rick Middleton (25) for sole possession of most SHG in Bruins history

New Jersey Devils:

  • F Travis Zajac is two points away (498) from 500 NHL career points
  • D Damon Severson is one assist away (99) from 100 NHL career assists
  • F Nico Hischier is four points away (96) from 100 NHL career points

Bruins vs Devils Outlook

The last time these two teams played one another, the Devils beat the Bruins in the TD Garden by a final score of 5-2 back on December 27th. It was a very poor outing for the Bruins who just came back from their three-day Christmas break. The Bruins are a much better team from even December and will be looking to redeem that loss on home ice tonight. After this game, the two will play one final time on March 21st in New Jersey.

The Bruins have the third-best power-play in the league at 26.5% going against the Devils’ third-best 83.7% penalty-kill percentage. On the flip side of things, The Devils have the 19th best man-advantage rate in the league (18.1%) going against Boston’s 81% penalty-kill success rate – good for 12th best in the National Hockey League.

Below are the official warmup lines of the Bruins for tonight’s contest in TD Garden.

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