The new-look Devils look to face a Bruins team trying to maintain their playoff spot. Here’s the preview.
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (25-26-12) vs. the Boston Bruins (33-25-6; SBN: Stanley Cup of Chowder)
The Time: 7:00 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV – MSG+; Digital Audio – The One Jersey Network
The Last Devils Game: The Devils fell to the Capitals 1-0 two days ago. The lone goal was scored by 21-year old Jakub Vrana, his 2nd of the season. The goal came on the power-play, off a bouncing puck that eventually slid to Vrana. Braden Holtby had a 15-save shutout, which is a sad shot total, and Schneider saved 23/24 shots to improve his save percentage to .914. Kevin Rooney made his NHL debut this game, and played limited yet productive minutes. As a Devils fan, this is the best case scenario — a loss, yet a relatively well-played game. John has the recap here.
The Last Bruins Game: The Bruins lost to Our Most Hated Rivals 2-1. The Rangers goals were scored by youngsters Pavel Buchnevich and Oscar Lindberg, for their 7th and 5th of the year respectably. The lone Bruins goal was scored by Brad Marchand. The Rangers defense was shaky to start the first, giving up great scoring chances to David Pastrnak and Zdeno Chara. Buchnevich’s 7th of the year came off a slapshot which rose over Rask’s shoulder and in. Oscar Lindberg then did a pretty deke past Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo, shooting it past Rask afterwards for a highlight-reel goal. Pastrnak then responded with his own pretty-looking goal, completely embarrassing Nick Holden before dishing the puck out to Marchand to tap in. Unfortunately for the Bruins, that was all they could muster, and they fell to the Rangers 2-1. Adam Denhard wrote a recap here. In the recap, they mention Cory Schneider, and lament about how the Bruins will have to overcome more strong goaltending.
The Last Bruins-Devils Game: The Devils actually shutout the Bruins 3-0 way back on the 2nd of January. The goals were scored by Parenteau, who is no longer with the team, Kalinin, who is no longer with the team, and Hall, who IS with the team. Schneider made 22 saves, and Luke Gazdic actually played over 5 minutes this game. Joking aside, the current Devils team is very different from what was seen in the January 2nd game, as Gazdic, Lappin, Parenteau, Cammalleri, Kalinin and Quincey will not appear in this game. On the Bruins side, Noel Acciari, Anton Blidh and Austin Czarnik have been sent down to the AHL.
Ones To Watch - Bruins: Brad Marchand leads this Bruins team in goals and assists, and has over a point-per-game ratio. David Pastrnak sees himself with 26 goals on the year, and is projected to get to 70 points on the year. Other than those two, the Bruins have decent scoring depth in the likes of Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Ryan Spooner and David Backes.
Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes have been abysmal for the Bruins this year. Beleskey, the 28 year old former Duck, is only in the second year of a 5 year, 19.8 million dollar contract, but sees himself with only two goals and seven points on the year. Jimmy Hayes on the other hand was traded for Reilly Smith, with Smith developing into a 2nd-3rd line forward for the Panthers. Meanwhile, Jimmy Hayes has been even worse than Matt Beleskey, with only two goals and five points on the year. Apparently, look for Drew Stafford to replace one of these two against the Devils.
Ones To Watch - Devils: At this point, the Devils are playing for next season, and need to decide who’s part of the future and who’s not. Devante Smith-Pelly, John Moore and possibly Mike Cammalleri should not be in the Devils future plans. Players like Kevin Rooney, Blake Coleman and Joseph Blandisi are being evaluated to see if they have any future with this Devils team. Other players like Stefan Noesen, Jon Merrill and Beau Bennett have shown flashes of greatness, but on the season have not performed well, and will likely need to be evaluated.
If all goes well, the perfect scenario would be seeing Moore or Cammalleri taken in the expansion draft, with the other being traded and acquiring some assets. It would be nice to see Coleman and Blandisi develop into reliable bottom-lining options, and Rooney develop into a good extra-forward or even 4th liner. For Noesen, Merrill and Bennett, if they were to actually put up stats matching their performances, I can see them having a future with this Devils team.
Also, I still don’t get the Dalton Prout trade. I don’t see him having a future with the Devils, and unless Quincey couldn’t attract any draft picks, I don’t like this trade at all. A more physical version of Seth Helgeson isn’t needed on this Devils team.
Lineup Changes? The aforementioned Dalton Prout may play in this game — he’s definitely playing in the Columbus game. It’s been mentioned that the Devils may play with 7 defenseman during one of these games, and Mike Cammalleri’s injury opens a spot for this. If the Devils don’t recall a forward, and Pavel Zacha isn’t ready to play, it seems likely that the Devils will use the 7 defenseman. We’ll see tomorrow.
So...: What do you guys think of this game? Do you think the Devils will lose? Should the Devils tank? Who do you think will play well for the Devils, and who do you want to leave next season? Let me know in the comments below, and take