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Game Preview #13: New Jersey Devils vs. Boston Bruins

After beating one of the league’s best teams in the Panthers and one of last year’s conference finalists in the Islanders, the Devils take on the Bruins in a Saturday matinee.

Boston Bruins v New Jersey Devils
The last time the Devils played the Bruins, Pavel Zacha scored the overtime game-winner.
Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (7-3-2) versus the Boston Bruins (6-5-0). SBN Blog: Stanley Cup of Chowder.

The Time: 1:00 PM EST

The Broadcast: TV - MSG+

The Lineup Decision

After sitting Yegor Sharangovich the last two games, Lindy Ruff is at a bit of a tough spot. Yes, the Devils had two of their best wins of the year versus the Panthers and Islanders, but it does not seem ideal to sit Sharangovich too often. As I mentioned in my game recap on Thursday, I thought that Alexander Holtz had a tough time against the Islanders. He missed with passes and had trouble handling passes from his teammates, often losing the puck as soon as he touched it. The Boston Bruins are not unlike the Islanders in the sense that they are a tough defensive team. Unfortunately for the Bruins, they have not had great goaltending, giving up 33 goals in 11 games so far while dominating the possession battle with a 55.3 CF%, giving up a bit more than three goals above expected at even strength. The Bruins defense might frustrate Holtz, even if he would have a good chance to score if he got a shot in close.

And if Holtz does play, it would be best to keep him away from Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy, who have formed one of the best shutdown pairings in the league. Personally, I think Sharangovich should play today, and Ruff should figure out how to get Holtz back into the lineup tomorrow against the Rangers - who are not good at even strength.

The Bruins’ New Face

Last night, the Bruins announced that they were recalling Oskar Steen from Providence in the AHL. According to the media release, Steen has five goals and five assists in seven AHL games this season. Oskar Steen is 23 years old, and was a sixth round pick in 2016 by the Bruins. He may very well turn out to be a great pick by Boston, as he had 37 points in 46 SHL games in 2018-10 before making the jump to North America in 2019-20, where he had 23 points in 60 AHL games. Steen seems to have fully adjusted to the North American game and may have nothing left to learn in the AHL. Meanwhile, the Bruins are in desperate need of scoring, with Marchand, Bergeron, Pastrnak, and Hall providing most of the team’s offense.

The Goalie Matchup

After Mackenzie Blackwood posted a 42-save shutout on Thursday, I am unsure of whether Lindy Ruff will have him play this afternoon. This is an opportunity to give Blackwood two full days of rest, since they will play the Rangers tomorrow night. This may be a good opportunity for Ruff to give Jonathan Bernier a game, as the Bruins are not a high-scoring team. Having Bernier start tonight could also mean he takes the Tuesday game versus the Senators, while Blackwood would be plenty rested for the Thursday game against the Panthers next week. As for the Boston Bruins, they have already announced their starting goaltender.

Jonathan Swayman is 3-2-0 in five starts with a .906 save percentage and 2.22 goals against average. In his career, he is 10-5-0 with a .933 save percentage and 1.74 goals against average. The 23 year old goalie has been splitting the net with Linus Ullmark, who is 3-3-0 with a .903 save percentage and a 3.01 goals against average. The Bruins have not had great goaltending this season, as Tuukka Rask is still a free agent while he recovers from hip surgery.

Your Thoughts

What do you think of today’s game? Will you be able to watch? How do you think the Devils will build off their past few games? Should Yegor get back into the lineup this afternoon? What do you think of the Boston team this year? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.