Game Time: 7:30 PM
Radio: 970 AM
The New Jersey Devils (15-14-10) will play host to the Boston Bruins (25-9-4) tonight for third and final meeting of the season. This is the second game between these teams in the last week. Last Thursday, the Devils shipped up to Boston in a game that saw the Devils throw everything but the kitchen sink at Tuukka Rask, but he stopped all 40 shots. Jaromir Jagr would score in his debut as a Bruin, and the Devils would fall 1-0. These are two teams headed in different directions, as Boston is fighting to win the Northeast Division, and New Jersey is fighting to keep its playoffs hopes alive.
Game Time: 7:00 PM
TV: MSG, NHLN-US
Radio: WFAN 660 AM, 101.9 FM
The New Jersey Devils (15-12-9) will travel to Boston to face-off against the Bruins (23-8-4) on Thursday night for the second time this season, with the teams set to meet once more next Wednesday at the Prudential Center. The first meeting between the teams came when the Devils were 3-0-1 and the Bruins were 4-0-1, and resulted in a 2-1 shootout loss for the Devils. The Devils will be looking to get out of a recent slump that has plagued their play lately, while the Bruins will look to catch up to Montreal for first place in the Northeast Division.
Well the Devils went into Boston tonight looking to rebound from the overtime loss to Montreal on Sunday and came up short again, losing in a shootout by a score of 2-1. However, in a shortened season, the Devils still collected 2 points from a possible 4 on this mini road trip which is not too shabby.
Game Time: 7:00 PM
Radio: WFAN 660 AM, 101.9 FM
The New Jersey Devils (3-0-1) will face-off against the Boston Bruins (4-0-1) at TD Bank Garden in Boston. Last season’s performance against the Bruins is one the Devils and their fans would like to forget. The Devils went 0-3-1 against Boston, and were outscored 18-8. The Devils specifically struggled in the third period against the Bruins, being outscored 11-2 in the final frame across four games. The Devils are coming off their first loss of the season in Montreal and will look to get back on the winning track.
It was just about a week ago that the Devils had the second highest point total in the Eastern Conference and looked as if they were going to make a legitimate run at the New York Rangers for the top spot in the conference. A lot has changed in the week since, and the Devils are now trying to hold on to 7th place in the conference, with their latest setback being a 4-3 overtime loss to David Krejci and the big bad Bruins. Boston has had their way with the New Jersey Devils this season, as they complete the sweep of the season series. Dating back to last season, they’ve won 7 out of 8 meetings between the teams, with Tim Thomas going 7-0-0 against the Devils during that span.
The Devils got off to a sluggish start, as the Bruins scored 1:13 into the game. David Krejci began what would be a huge night for him. The frustrating part for the Devils is that the Bruins came occured directly after the Devils nearly buried one of their own. After a lengthy fight between #22s, Eric Boulton and Shawn Thornton, it was the Bruins who continued to press for the 2-0 goal. Martin Brodeur made a pair of huge saves, first on Tyler Seguin’s point blank one-timer on an odd man rush and another on Gregory Campbell. Just minutes later, though, Seguin would beat Brodeur on a feed from down low. The Devils warmed to the task after Peter DeBoer’s timeout, especially after Brodeur stopped Krejci on a shorthanded breakaway, but couldn’t beat Tim Thomas.
The second period was dramatically better for the Devils. They scored their first goal as Ilya Kovalchuk took the puck away from a Bruin at the right point, then fed Zach Parise on a 2-on-1. Parise buried his 24th of the season to cut the deficit to 2-1. They scored again as Anton Volchenkov’s point shot apparently deflected off Petr Sykora and a Bruins defenseman, before Patrik Elias backhanded the puck into an empty net, which made him the fourth Devil to reach 20 goals. The Devils are the only team with four 20 goal scorers. At the end of the period, Jacob Josefson sent David Clarkson behind the net, and Clarkson wrapped it around and through Thomas to give the Devils a 3-2 lead heading into the second intermission.
Early in the third period, after failing on an early power play, the Devils looked as if they would be able to contain the Bruins in the third, but that changed 5:30 into the period. Krejci scored again on a broken play for his second of the game, and it was tied at 3. The Bruins failed on a power play immediately after their third goal, but almost scored on the Devils’ next power play, after Zdeno Chara high-sticked Adam Henrique. Chris Kelly hit the crossbar shorthanded. The Devils didn’t threaten on the power play, and it was cut short due to a high-sticking penalty on Ilya Kovalchuk.
The Devils managed to get a point, despite a late push by the Bruins. Tim Thomas made a pair of saves in overtime, but the Bruins developed a strange cycle shift where Zdeno Chara came down from the left point. He appeared to catch the puck and hand-pass it to Krejci, and Krejci beat Brodeur up high, and there was no review for a hand pass. The Devils fell in overtime.
Although they took a lead into the third period (again) against the Bruins, the Devils could not find a way to beat the defending Cup champs. The Bruins were just too much for the Devils to handle. It’s not panic time yet for Devils fans, because they’re still in a playoff spot, but the Devils upcoming schedule is very difficult. March is a heavy month for the Devils. They’ll need both of their goaltenders to play well if they want any chance at moving back into the top-4 in the Eastern Conference.
Elias, by the way, joins David Clarkson, Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk, as the Devils’ four 20 goal scorers this season. Here’s an interesting fact: in games that feature Ilya Kovalchuk taking a minor penalty (other than coincidental roughing penalties), the Devils have won a grand total of one game during Kovy’s tenure as a Devil. That was a 1-0 win over the Rangers last February. So, tomorrow in Washington, here’s to hoping Kovy stays out of the box!
Boston Bruins (37-21-3, 77 points) vs. New Jersey Devils (35-23-4, 74 points)
7:00 PM E.T.
TV: MSG Plus, Radio: WFAN 660 AM
The Bruins and Devils have faced each other three times this season. This will be the final meeting of the regular season between the two teams. Boston has had their way with the Devils this season, winning all three matchups in regulation. They beat New Jersey, 4-3 on November 15h, 6-1 on January 4th and 4-1 on January 19th. The Devils will look to beat Boston for the first time since the final regular season game of last season, when the Devils beat backup goaltender Tuukka Rask and the Bruins, 3-2, before the Bruins would eventually win the Stanley Cup in seven games. Right now, if the playoffs started today, these two teams would meet in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, which is not good news for the Devils on paper. Tim Thomas is 6-0-0 in his last six starts against the Devils.
The Devils got off to a phenomenal start after the All-Star break, as we seem to mention every game. They were 9-1-1 in their first 11 games out of the break, before the most recent three-game losing streak, which featured regulation losses to Vancouver, Tampa Bay and the rival New York Rangers this past Monday. Still, the Devils are 9-4-1 since the break and 12-3-1 in their 16 road games.
Although the Devils lost to Vancouver last Friday, they didn’t play poorly in that game, but they looked tired and lazy in their Sunday loss to Tampa Bay. Monday’s game at Madison Square Garden was a bit bizarre, as both teams expressed their displeasure for each other with their fists, but not in the back of the net. In fact, the Devils and Rangers combined for 28 shots on goal (including the empty net goal by New York), which combines for the fewest shots on goal in a New Jersey Devils game since they moved from Colorado to New Jersey in 1982.
Searching for offense:
One thing remains true about the Devils: they have been playing well defensively of late. They held the Rangers to 15 shots on goal on Monday. In fact, the four goals allowed to Tampa Bay were the most goals they allowed in a loss since January 21st, when the Flyers beat the Devils, 4-1 in New Jersey. But Peter DeBoer wants the Devils’ offense to be more productive, as he changed the second, third and fourth lines in practice in an effort to spark the team’s goal scoring. You can view the entire lineup for both teams below.
Speaking of offense, how good has Alexei Ponikarovsky been since being traded to the Devils? In 49 games with Carolina prior to the trade, Ponikarovsky had registered just 15 points and was a minus-12. In 16 games with the Devils, he’s put up 5 goals and 6 assists, and has a plus-5 +/- rating. His shooting percentage is a ridiculously-high 21.7 right now, but the Devils are certainly enjoying his offensive production and his play on the third line since the trade.
Newcomer Marek Zidlicky is also expected to help the Devils score more goals. He hasn’t put up a point in two games as a Devil, but he has had a chance to practice with his new team, so it is the hope of DeBoer and the Devils that he’ll start to fit in and produce offensively, as well as help run the power play.
Another test in the face-off circle:
By now, you probably want to smack me for talking about face-offs again, as I’ve beaten the subject to death between previews, recaps and my own site, but here’s why it’s a crucial part of tonight’s game: the Boston Bruins are the best face-off team in the NHL, and they’re led by one of hockey’s elite centers: Patrice Bergeron. The Bruins dominated the Devils in the face-off circle during the prior three meetings between these two teams. The Bruins are too deep and too talented to give them such an advantage and chase the play, so the Devils will need to find an answer in that regard.
Martin Brodeur started every game but one in February (the Devils’ 6-4 win in Philadelphia on February 4th), and he’ll get the first start in March. DeBoer has already confirmed that Johan Hedberg will start Friday in Washington, but for now, Brodeur gets the start. The Devils have been playing well in front of him for the most part, at least statistically. Brodeur has faced just 46 shots in the last three games (16 against Vancouver, 16 against Tampa Bay and 14 against the Rangers). Ironically, the Devils lost all three of those games, so perhaps the Devils should allow more shots and less high-quality scoring chances.
Latest from the defending champs:
Things haven’t been smooth-sailing for the Boston Bruins recently. They just finishes a disappointing February, as they went 9-9-2 during the calendar’s shortest month. They were recently shut out 1-0 by the Ottawa Senators, which marked the second time in the last 5 games in which Boston failed to score a goal. The Devils were also shut out in their last game, but that was the only game since opening night where the Devils failed to score at least one goal. The Bruins only won five games in February that did not feature a shootout. Tim Thomas’ play has dipped significantly since his infamous comments and boycott of the team’s trip to the White House. The Devils did manage to score three goals in Thomas in their last trip to Boston.
Devils’ projected lineup:
Parise – Henrique – Kovalchuk
Sykora – Elias – Zubrus
Ponikarovsky – Josefson – Clarkson
Boulton – Carter – Bernier
Greene – Fayne
Salvador – Larsson
Volchenkov – Zidlicky
Bruins’ projected lineup:
Lucic – Kelly – Krejci
Marchand – Bergeron – Seguin
Paille – Campbell – Thornton
Pouliot – Rolston – Caron
Chara – Ference
Seidenberg – Corvo
McQuaid – Zanon
*We hope you’ll join us for our second viewing party of the week, as the Generals host our very first Bergen County viewing party at the Orange Lantern in Paramus. Details are on the event’s Facebook page.