The Time: 7 PM EST
The Broadcasting Info: MSG+ for the TV, 660 AM WFAN for the radio
Last Devils Game: The Devils got beaten early, clawed one back, and then got beaten in the third by a team who showed up to play most, if not all, of the 60 minutes that make up a hockey game. The Devils lost to the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 and it was a thoroughly poor loss at home.
Last Bruins Game: Last Saturday seems so long ago, but that was when the Bruins last played. They were down 3-1 until the final 1:28 of the third period. There, the Bruins scored 2 quick goals and ended up winning in the shootout against Ottawa. Stanley Cup of Chowder recapped that game here.
The Goal: Dig deep. The Devils just lost in a bad way to Buffalo at the Rock and now they get to "enjoy" their first home-and-away back-to-back game against a team who has had plenty of time for rest and preparation. The Devils recognize that their road performances have been better than their home performances. Jamie Langenbrunner said as such, as reported by Gulitti after last night's game. Yet, with a lack of rest as well as a drop in confidence, the road winning streak could easily end tonight. The Devils will have to dig deep to find the energy necessary to provide the appropriate effort and levels of intensity tonight's game could require.
On paper, one could say the Bruins are among the middle of the pack. Their record is, well, average. Their special teams are below average with a 15% power play success rate and a 75.6% penalty kill success rate. They average 29.6 shots per game (20th in the NHL) and allow 31.3 shots against per game (tied for 21st in the NHL). Their 5-on-5 For/Against Ratio is 1.17 (12th in the NHL); but they still average more goals against (3.1) than goals scored (2.8).
Regardless, Boston remains a talented team. Patrice Bergeron has got his groove back and leads all active forwards in scoring (Marc Savard is injured) with 3 goals and 4 assists. Derek Morris is proving his contract with a goal and 6 assists along with averaging 23:16 of ice time, second behind Zdeno Chara's 24:59 average ice time. David Krejci, Michael Ryder, Blake Wheeler, and Marco Sturm have all contributed as well. Of course, Tim Thomas is returning to form as well. The Bruins may be banged up with injuries, but they aren't devoid of talent beyond Savard and Milan Lucic. Plus, head coach Claude Julien will match-up his players to the best of his ability against a Devils team still shifting everything around to find out what works.
Since Jacques Lemaire has been moving forwards around, most notably reuniting ZZ Pops against Buffalo, trying to guess the lines is kind of a pointless affair. Most forwards outside of the fourth line will be moved around in some way or form. For the defense, maybe Cory Murphy gets in to replace Mark Fraser to add freshness to the roster, and so the #6 defenseman won't necessarily have limited minutes - possibly to the detriment to the rest of the blueline.
As far as goaltending goes, I'm ambivalent over who starts for New Jersey. Lemaire is going to make this decision later this morning (per Gulitti). Martin Brodeur going back-to-back shouldn't be a concern as this is all after 3 days of full rest, and he would give the Devils the best chance to win on paper. That said, I could see Yann Danis getting a game here than against Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis of Tampa Bay. Not that Tampa Bay is more offensively successful, but Boston hasn't been lighting it up either and he would spell Brodeur more effectively here. Either way, I feel it doesn't matter who starts in net as that's not the big key for the Devils - the team's effort is far more vital to any shot at coming away from Boston with a win.
Above all, I want the Devils to give a stronger, more consistent effort tonight at Boston than they did against Buffalo in New Jersey. They have been undefeated on the road because the Devils didn't give up on games and they battled hard against the opposition to earn the needed goals to get those wins. I hope the Devils can do so again, and to do that just after playing a hockey game the night before, the Devils will have to dig deep for it.
Check out Stanley Cup of Chowder for the Boston point of view for tonight's game. I apologize for not getting questions in for this one; but if you check it out, you'll learn more about the Bruins themselves (or ask the guy directly). Please leave all comments relevant to tonight's game in advance of the GameThread here. Thanks for reading and Go Devils!