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Game 56: Devils vs. Boston

The New Jersey Devils continue their homestand against the team that currently has the best record in the league today. It just so happens they are the same team that the Devils did well against in a loss back in December and actually beat in their own building in January. Both games were close games and I wouldn't expect anything else short of a bad game by either team.

As you may expect, from Chere's recent post, captain Jamie Langenbrunner sees the game as a measuring stick:

Captain Jamie Langenbrunner said: "These are two measuring-stick games, two games that you want to play well in. That's the most important thing. Results will take care of themselves."

As far as the fourth line issue is concerned, I thought Jay Pandolfo looked all right against the Islanders. But according to Gulitti's report at today's practice, Mike Rupp is healthy and Sutter will make the decision on Friday. So go there tomorrow and find out who it will be on that line. I swear, if Bobby Holik takes another stupid goaltender interference penalty, I'll be calling for a fourth line of Pandolfo-Rupp-Clarkson for a game until Bobby learns he's not allowed to do that. It really is avoidable and he's smart enough to know to not do it.

I would expect Scott Clemmensen to start in net. Weekes didn't look too good in the Devils' 4-2 win against the Islanders, in my opinion. Plus, Clemmensen has seen Boston twice - nothing they will do will really faze him.

Though, it seems Boston's going to throw something different on the power play. Via Stanley Cup of Chowder, I learned at the Bruins Blog at that Claude Julien stuck Patrice Bergeron down low and put Stephane Yelle on a unit. Also, Pettri Nokelainen and Chuck Kobasew definitely won't play at the Rock. Neither will Michael Ryder. The Bruins' official site notes that Martins Karsums and Vladamir Sobotka were called up, I guess they'll be their replacements. OK, so it'll be more than a little bit different for Clemmensen (or Weekes).

Regardless, the Devils need to really be sharp with the puck possession and their shot selection. I felt they did a better job of it against the Islanders on offense, but they nearly got burned more than a few times on defense. Given that the Islanders didn't have the likes of Marc Savard, Phil Kessel, or Milan Lucic (to name a few) and that's what happened, it's imperative that the defense be more focused. Yes, the Bruins lost against San Jose in an impressive fashion on Tuesday; but they are still the Bruins. They will put away those giveaways or make the Devils pay for any positional brainfarts by New Jersey in their own zone. For that reason alone, the Devils need to bring their A game lest they get smoked. One player to be confident in bringing their best to the ice will be this guy:

2008 - Zach Parise 55 34 33 67 23 22 11 0 6 2 230 14.8

For the Bruins side of things, go visit Stanley Cup of Chowder. Feel free to leave comments about the game (before, during, and after). Please keep it clean, keep it relevant, and Go Devils.