DAB Pregame: Slumping Devils Face Red-Hot Bruins

 

The Bruins and Devils beat each other once so far this season. –Getty Images

 

Match Overview

The slumping New Jersey Devils bring their 25-26-12 record into Boston to face the Bruins who hold a 33-26-6 record. These teams are on opposite ends of the spectrum in the Eastern Conference as Boston is 7th and New Jersey is currently 14th.

On the Devils side of things…The Devils enter tonight’s game ad mist a five-game losing streak. The interesting thing about their losing streak is each of the games have come against teams currently in a playoff spot and the Devils have relatively held their own. In these games, there have been a ton of good takeaways. Kyle Palmieri has been lighting up the board (4G, 3A), Cory Schneider has been spectacular, and the Devils’ special teams have been relatively good. As for tonight, the Devils are expected to dress 11 forwards and 7 defenseman to accommodate the injury of Michael Cammalleri. This means newly-acquired Dalton Prout will be making his Devils debut. Also worth noting, Cory Schneider will be making a 5th consecutive start.

On the Bruins side of things…The Bruins are coming off a 7-3-0 month of February and have been playing brilliantly since the firing of Claude Julien and the hiring of Bruce Cassidy. In February, there was only one game where the Bruins didn’t score more than three goals and their power play was spectacular. As a team, the Bruins have the best penalty-kill in the league. Led by Dominic Moore, the Bruins penalty kill converts at an 86% rate. As for the other three main team statistics, the Bruins rank in the top-15. They are 15th in goals per game, 10th in goals against, and their power play ranks 14th overall. Boston will also be receiving a reinforcement tonight  as newly acquired forward Drew Stafford will be making his Bruins debut. Bruins’ number one goaltender Tukka Rask isn’t expected to play tonight (rest), so back-up Anton Khudobin (3-5-1, 2.84 GAA, .896 Sv%) will make his 10th start this year.

Projected Devil Lines

Hall-Zajac-Palmieri

Wood-Henrique-Bennett

Blandisi-Coleman-Noesen

X-Rooney-Smith-Pelley

Greene-Lovejoy

Merrill-Santini

Severson-Moore

X-Prout

Schneider (19-19-10, 2.64 GAA, .914 Sv%)

 

Devils Injury Report

  • Forward Jacob Josefson is said to be out at least the next two games. He sustained an “upper-boy” injury in the first period of the Devils’ 4-3 OT loss against Montréal two-games ago.
  • Forward Pavel Zacha, who sustained a concussion against the Rangers three games ago, has participated in the last couple practices but will remain out of tonight game. I envision Zacha will be good to go very soon as he has been practicing.
  • Forward Michael Cammalleri went awkwardly into the boards in the Devils’ 1-0 defeat against Washington Thursday night. Hynes says he is out at least a week and will be evaluated then. His injury is described as an “upper-body” injury.

 

Rookie defenseman Steven Santini has been impressive thus far in his rookie season. –Getty Images

 

What/Who to Watch

  • The Boston Bruins, as a team, have been lighting up the board in terms of shots. The Bruins currently rank 1st in the league in CF% rating at 55.1. For those who don’t know, Corsi is used to measure how effective a team is in getting shots to the net, and preventing shots from getting to their own. Another interesting shot statistic, which corresponds to the CF%, is the Bruins rank 2nd in the league in shots/GP at 33.8 and 2nd in the league in shots against/GP at 26.5.
  • Boston’s forward Brad Marchand has been absolutely tearing it up lately. He brings in a four-game point streak where he’s racked up 8 points (4G, 4A). Marchand has been dominant all year as he is 4th in the league in scoring with 67 points (29G, 38A). He also (in terms of advanced metrics) ranks second in the league (min. 700 TOI) with a CF% of 60.4. (statistics via stats.hockeyanalysis.com)
  • The defensive pairing of Steve Santini and Jon Merrill has been solid of late and even received praise from John Hynes at Friday’s practice. In the Devils’ 1-0 lost to Washington Thursday night, Merrill and Santini were by far the Devils’ best defensive pairing. Together they combined for a Corsi of +25/-13, which is impressive, especially against the NHL’s best. I would be very surprised if John Hynes split these two up tonight.
  • Newly acquired defenseman Dalton Prout will be making his Devils debut tonight. It will be interesting to see how much time he actually logs however, since Devils are dressing 7-defenseman. Expect Prout to be throwing around his body, blocking shots, and getting time on the penalty kill. He will be wearing No. 47 in his first game with New Jersey.

Today’s game can be seen on MSG+ at 7:00 PM.

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