The Matchup: The Boston Bruins (34-29-12) face off against the New Jersey Devils (44-26-5). This is the fourth and final meeting between the two teams this season. The Devils currently lead the season series, 3-0-0.
The Last Bruins Game: Boston lost to the Buffalo Sabres, 3-2, last night in Boston. David Krejci gave the Bruins an early 1-0 lead, but the Sabres responded with three straight goals to take a lead. Bruins coach Claude Jullien pulled Tim Thomas after he gave up three goals on 14 shots. Tuukka Rask stopped 19 shots after coming off the bench. Ryan Miller stopped 40 shots in the victory.
The Last Devils Game: The Flyers thumped the Devils, 5-1, Sunday in Philadelphia. Martin Brodeur allowed four goals on 19 shots and was pulled after the second period. The Devils broke Brian Boucher’s shutout with Ilya Kovalchuk’s 39th goal of the season. Boucher made 32 saves for his sixth win of the season.
The Last Bruins – Devils Game: The Devils defeated the Bruins, 3-2, March 15 in New Jersey. Rob Niedermayer, David Clarkson and Zach Parise scored three goals on 12 shots against Thomas, chasing him from the game in the first period. Blake Wheeler and Patrice Bergeron scored to pull within one, but the Devils held on for the win.
Tonight’s Matchup: The Devils need to play better than Sunday in Philadelphia.That game was an absolute stinker, and I think it was expected after a playoff-clinching game Saturday against Montreal. But this late in the season isn’t a great time to turn in stinkers. The Devils currently sit two points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the Atlantic Division title. As I discussed here, the Devils want to be in position to clinch the second seed. The only way to do that is defeat quality opponents, and the team has one in Boston tonight.
It seems like the Devils elevate their game when playing playoff-bound teams. A great example is this weekend’s game. The Devils played a solid game against the Canadiens, going 2-for-3 on the powerplay and dominating play. That’s what they need to do tonight. The Devils will face Rask, one of the best goalies in the league, tonight at the Rock. They need to pressure the Boston defense early and often. If they can jump ahead and control the play, they should do well. Not only that, but Boston is playing in the second game of a back-to-back. The Devils, who had the day off yesterday, should be the fresher and more explosive team in this game. I think the Devils will return to their 60-minute effort tonight and play a solid game against a struggling Bruins team.
Gametime is 7:00 p.m., and you can catch all the action on MSG Plus and WFAN Radio.
Here are the lineups from today’s practice (players in red were the extra skaters):
Zach Parise – Patrik Elias – Jamie Langenbrunner
Ilya Kovalchuk – Travis Zajac – Brian Rolston
Dainius Zubrus – Rob Niedermayer – David Clarkson
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond – Dean McAmmond – Vladmir Zharkov
Rod Pelley – Jay Pandolfo
Bryce Salvador – Andy Greene
Colin White – Mike Mottau
Martin Skoula – Paul Martin
Mark Fraser – Anssi Salmela