New Jersey Devils (21-15-2, 44 points) vs Boston Bruins (24-10-1, 49 points)
7:30 PM EST
TV: NBC Sports Network
Radio: WFAN 660 AM
This will be the second of four games between the New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins this season. The two teams last met on November 15, in Boston, which saw the defending Stanley Cup Champions sneak past the Devils, 4-3.
Shorthanded Goal Blows Devils Third Period Lead:
The New Jersey Devils kryptonite this season has been third period leads and shorthanded goals. Both of these combined to give the Devils only their second overtime loss this season.
So far this season, the Devils have given up 12 shorthanded goals. No other club has given up more than five shorthanded goals. Currently, the Devils are on pace to break the season-record of shorthanded goals against, which is 22 shared by three teams: the 1984-85 Pittsburgh Penguins, the 1991-92 Minnesota North Stars, and the 1995-96 Stanley Cup Champions, the Colorado Avalanche.
On the bright side, the Devils currently are tied with the Carolina Hurricanes for scoring the most shorthanded goals as a team, so far this season, with seven. Last year, the Devils only had five shorthanded goals all season.
No matter how atrocious the powerplay unit seems this year by not converting on powerplay chances and giving up shorthanded goals, the team is still doing a lot better than they were at this point last season. Just be thankful that the Devils aren’t 19 games below NHL-.500, like they were at one point last year.
Projected Devils Lineup:
Parise (C) – Henrique – Kovalchuk (A)
Sykora – Elias (A) – Zubrus
Tedenby – Carter – Clarkson
Boulton – Sestito – Janssen
Salvador – Larsson
Tallinder – Fayne
Taormina – Foster
*Note: Travis Zajac is expected to be a scratch tonight due to expected soreness in his achilles tendon.
The Latest on the Boston Bruins:
After a slow start, the defending Stanley Cup Champions found themselves with the longest winning streak in the league earlier this season, 10 games. After that was ended, a new streak started when the Bruins looked to win their eighth consecutive game in their last game of 2011 on Saturday against the Stars, but the Stars had different plans handing the Bruins a 4-2 loss. During the Bruins’ seven-game win streak, the Bruins outscored their opponents by a 32-8 margin, but were outshot 244-212.
If you’re a Devils fan reading this, the intimidating stat is the Bruins are 21-3-1 in their last 25 games and are 10-2-0 in their last 12 road games.
Tonight’s game will be the Bruins first game of 2012, and only their third in the past 12 days. The question going into the game is: will the rest benefit the Bruins or will they be relaxed?
Projected Bruins Lineup:
Lucic – Krejci – Horton
Marchand – Bergeron – Seguin
Pouliot – Kelly – Peverly
Paille – Hamill – Thornton
Chara – Boychuk
Seidenberg – Corvo
Ference – McQuaid
The 2011 NHL Awards were not without controversy. Nicklas Lidstrom stole the Norris from Shea Weber and Zdeno Chara despite his -2 differential on the year. Ryan Kesler finally won the Selke, Corey Perry deservedly took home the MVP Hart Trophy, and Tim Thomas got the Vezina. Without further ado, here are the voting results for the finalists of the major awards:
NORRIS: Lidstrom (736), Weber (727), Chara (688)
SELKE: Kesler (1.179), Toews (476), Datsuyk (348)
ADAMS: Bylsma (196), Vigneault (169), Trotz (80)
CALDER: Skinner (1,055), Couture (908), Grabner (497)
GM OF THE YEAR: Gillis (96), Yzerman (61), Poile (55)
LADY BYNG: St. Louis (994), Lidstrom (464), Eriksson (347)
VEZINA: Thomas (104), Rinne (84), Luongo (33)
HART: Perry (1,043), Sedin (960), St. Louis (332)
Roberto Luongo’s season was rewarded as part of some goalie tandem award, and I’m sure drinking from it will be just as sweet as the Stanley Cup he almost won.
Zdeno Chara won the Mark Messier leadership award, but finished third for the Norris. I don’t think anyone feels too badly for him after the way the Bruins’ season finished.
Dustin Brown best embodied the NHL’s core principals and won the NHL Foundation Award.
I got six predictions right, which is better than I did for my Oscars picks. Dan Bylsma did amazing things with a depleted Penguins roster, and I’m glad to see him rewarded. I thought Yzerman filled the holes in the Tampa Bay Lightning incredibly well, and was robbed for GM of the year.
Speaking of rookies, Jeff Skinner won the Calder and he deserved it after an exciting season for the Hurricanes.
Tim Thomas got the Vezina after setting the record for best saves percentage in a season, in what was probably the least surprising award of the night.
Congratulations to all the players that were awarded. Now, on to the draft!
The Stanley Cup Finals. It pits the two “best” teams in the league up against each other for a chance to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup. The most exciting time of the season.
When you hear Stanley Cup Finals, you think overtime hockey. You think close, exciting games. You dream of that game seven overtime goal.
At the end of game one, this is what we thought we were going to have as the audience. Raffi Torres scoring the game-winning goal for Vancouver with 18.5 seconds left in the third period. A final score of 1-0. One of the most exciting game one’s I have ever seen.
Game two was no different, with overtime being forced and Alex Burrows scoring the second quickest goal in SCF history, at 11 seconds.
Game three was do or die for the Bruins. Boston wasn’t going down without a fight as they romped the Canucks, 8-1.
Since that third game, the verdict of the series was evident. Boston was going to win. Boston was clearly outplaying the Canucks. In the games that Boston won, they outscored the Canucks 25-3. In the games the Canucks won, the difference was 5-2. Meaning, the Bruins scored 27 goals this series, while Vancouver only scored eight. Lopsided offense much?
The Bruins were also able to do something almost unheard of in the Stanley Cup Finals. They were able to chase the Canucks’ star goaltender, Roberto Luongo, from the game. You want your best players to be just that, your BEST players. Luongo was not the Canucks best player this series, on or off the ice. Karma struck Luongo after he criticized Tim Thomas’ playing style, as he gave up three goals within the first nine minutes of game six.
This Stanley Cup Final also saw the Canucks lose, even though they never trailed in any of their other playoff series.
To sum it up, congrats to the Bruins. They were clearly the best team this off-season. Their on-ice product is something other teams need to look at and try to duplicate. Claude Julien, former Devils coach, knows how to run a successful organization.
And a special congrats to Tim Thomas for becoming only the second American-born player in history to win the Conn Smythe Trophy (the other was Brian Leetch in 94, against the Canucks. I see a pattern).
PS: It doesn’t hurt to think of it this way: The Devils beat the Bruins in the final game of the regular season. Therefore the Devils beat the Stanley Cup Champions. Therefore, the Devils are the true champions.