Preview: Devils Have a Tough Task Against Bruins

The New Jersey Devils will be hosting the Boston Bruins today at 1 ET at the Prudential Center for their third matchup of the season. The Bruins have won their last three games, and their record of 24-7-9 (57 pts) has them sitting atop of the Atlantic Division and second in the Eastern Conference behind the Washington Capitals. The Devils, on the other hand, find themselves at the bottom of the conference, with a record of 13-19-6 (32 pts), but are coming fresh off a 4-3 win in Ottawa Sunday where Jack Hughes scored his first career OT goal to give the Devils a much-needed victory.

The Devils were firing the puck from all over the ice Sunday night, as they outshot the Senators 34-23. Nico Hischier (5), Wayne Simmonds (4), and Nikita Gusev (3) led forwards in shots, while P.K. Subban led all defensemen with three shots on goal. If the Devils want to continue to put up four goals or thirty plus shots on net per game, they will need to see continuous production from these key players. The Devils were also converting on the powerplay, as they went two for four with the man-advantage on Sunday. Like we’ve seen throughout the season, both Gusev and Hischier scored on the first power play unit. The assists on these goals came from both Sami Vatanen and Jack Hughes, both of whom were not finished adding their names to the scoresheet for the night.

History Proves Boston’s Dominance over New Jersey

In their first two matchups this year, the Bruins heavily dominated the Devils by shutting them out 3-0 in early October in Boston and embarrassing them in a 5-1 victory at The Rock in mid-November. Some fans may attribute the losses to a few things, like the tumultuous time period the leadership of John Hynes brought to the team or the defensive struggles of P.K. Subban, but the reality is that Boston has always played well against New Jersey. The Bruins hold the upper hand when looking at the 51 regular-season matchups between the two teams all-time, with Boston winning 31 of those games. To make matters worse, the Devils have only beaten the Bruins two of the ten times they have faced off since March of 2017. The last win for the Devils came on Dec 18, 2018. In those ten games, Boston has outscored the Devils by ten goals, putting up 29 and only allowing 19.

Who to Watch: David Pastrnak

In my last article, I thought that the Devils’ goal and point leader, Kyle Palmieri, would be the player to watch against the Senators because of the spark he brings to the offense in key situations. The Bruins have a similar player that is just as vital and dangerous for the team’s offense, and his name is David Pastrnak.

Pastrnak has been making a strong case for himself to be considered in the Hart Trophy conversation. Earlier this month, he became only the 11th player in NHL history to score 25 goals or more by Dec. 1st, with the last player being Mario Lemieux in 1992 (29 goals). Even though he has only scored four goals since his milestone and put up twelve assists, he currently has 58 points on the season (averaging 1.45 pts/game).

In the Bruins’ last meeting with the Devils, Pastrnak was a big problem for New Jersey’s defensemen, as he scored two of the Bruins’ five goals in their win at the Prudential Center. Not much has changed defensively for New Jersey, as the team has allowed the third-most goals (136) in the league. This is exactly what a player like Pastrnak needs to break out of the minor cold streak he is on. Before scoring number 29 in his last game against the Buffalo Sabres, Pastrnak was in the midst of a five-game goal drought. One can assume that the winger will be hungry to get goal number 30 before the end of the calendar year, and it’ll be up to the Devils’ defense to stop him.

David became only the 11th player in NHL history to score 25 goals or more by December 1st, with the last player being Mario Lemieux in 1992 (29 goals) (@PR_NHL Twitter).

Line Combinations

New Jersey Devils Lineup

  • Bratt/Hischier/Palmieri
  • Coleman/Zajac/Gusev
  • Wood/Hughes/Simmonds
  • Boqvist/Zacha/Hayden
  • Greene/Subban
  • Severson/Vatanen
  • Butcher/Carrick
  • Blackwood (starter)
  • Senn

Boston Bruins Lineup

  • Marchand/Bergeron/Pastrnak
  • Bjork/Coyle/Heinen
  • Debrusk/Lindholm/Backes
  • Nordstrom/Kurlay/Wagner
  • Chara/Carlo
  • Lauzon/Grzelcyk
  • Moore/Kampfer
  • Halak (starter)
  • Rask

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