Devils 2013 Schedule Preview: Boston Bruins
With the lockout all but done*, and the framework of the schedule for this shortened season already decided, The Devils’ Den will give you an in-depth look at the team’s opponents this season. We kick it off today with a look at the Boston Bruins.
The Stanley Cup hangover was alive and well in Beantown last year. After winning the organization’s first championship since the 1971-72 team, the Bruins stumbled out of the gate, finishing with the worst opening month for a defending champion since the playoff format changed in 1994.
That all changed, though, as Boston found its footing. The Bruins finished with a 49-29-4 record, winning the Northeast Division and completing a second straight 40-win, 100-point season. They lost in the quarterfinals, falling in seven games to the Washington Capitals.
The Bruins had the most overseas players during the lockout, and welcome back the likes of Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand and a healthy Nathan Horton. But the big question will be in between the pipes, where Tuukka Rask takes over as the team’s number one goalie.
Boston continued to dominate the Devils, sweeping the regular season series. The Bruins outscored New Jersey, 18-8, scoring at least four goals in each game. That continued a two-year run of dominance for Boston, as they’ve won seven of the last eight meetings against the Devils.
Bruins – 4, Devils – 3: November 15, 2011 @ TD Garden
The game remained scoreless until the second period, when David Clarkson opened the scoring on the powerplay. Chris Kelly tied the game, and the teams carried that 1-1 tie into the third period. That’s when the damn broke, with each team trading goals. First Marchand scored for Boston, with Nick Palmieri tying the game at two. Boston responded again, grabbing it’s second lead of the period on a Shawn Thornton goal. Palmieri would come through again for New Jersey, tying the game at 3-3 with his second goal of the period. Benouit Pouliot would end the scoring, giving the Bruins their third and final lead with the game-winning goal at the 16:59 mark of the final period.
Johan Hedberg stopped 33 shots in the loss. Tim Thomas recorded 27 saves in the win.
Bruins – 6, Devils – 1: January 4, 2012 @ Prudential Center
New Jersey broke through first again, with Clarkson tallying on the powerplay for a 1-0 lead in the first period. From there, it was all Boston. The Bruins scored six straight goals – paced by Patrice Bergeron’s multi-goal game – to skate away with a 6-1 win. Twelve different players recorded at least a point in the win. Martin Brodeur allowed all six goals, making just 21 saves. Thomas was stellar in net, stopping 30 shots.
Bruins – 4, Devils – 1: January 19, 2012 @ Prudential Center
The Devils once again scored the first goal in the game, with Petr Sykora breaking a scoreless tie in the second period. Andrew Ference tied the game at one at the 3:01 mark of the third period, and opened the floodgates for Boston. The Bruins pulled ahead, 3-1, in a span of 35 seconds. Goals from Horton and Gregory Campbell put Boston ahead, once again overcoming a first goal by the Devils. Kelly added an empty-netter to seal the win.
Thomas stopped 30 shots in the win. Brodeur, on the losing end once again, made 21 saves.
Bruins – 4, Devils – 3 (OT): March 1, 2012 @ TD Garden
Boston jumped ahead early, with goals from Krejci and Seguin giving the Bruins a 2-0 lead after one period. New Jersey roared back in the middle frame, with Zach Parise, Patrik Elias and Clarkson staking the Devils to a 3-2 lead after the second period. Krejci then took over, tying the game in the final period. He’d complete his second career hat trick in overtime, scoring the game-winner at the 2:59 mark to give Boston the win.
This Season’s Matchup
The biggest change for the Bruins will be in between the pipes, where Rask takes over for Thomas. Thomas, who led them to a championship just two years ago, will take a year off of hockey to spend time with his family. He found himself under constant scrutiny last season, but it wasn’t for his play on the ice. Instead, Thomas made waves by skipping the team’s meeting with President Obama at the White House and making various political statements via his Facebook page.
Rask will get his heaviest workload since the 2009-10 season, when he started 45 games for Boston. That year, he posted a 22-12-5 record, with a stellar 1.97 goals-against average and .931 save percentage. In the two years since, he’s failed to make over 30 starts in a season, and hasn’t started in the playoffs in two seasons. The Bruins signed him to a one-year contract, so he’ll have to prove he can be the number one goalie.
Other than that, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli stayed quiet during the offseason. His bid for Parise was denied, and he pulled out of the Rick Nash derby as well. A healthy Horton will add the big scorer to balance out the top six. Boston, who ranked second in the league with 269 goals, don’t need the help. But they’ll welcome it.
Defensively, the team will need to improve in front of Rask. The Bruins defense allowed 202 goals, fifth worst in the league, and that’s with a perennial Norris Trophy candidate Zdeno Chara. Dougie Hamilton can make the jump this season, helping plug a hole left by Joe Corvo. The defenseman recorded 72 points in 50 games with the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, and also finished with a plus-37 rating.
In 137 all-time meetings with Boston, New Jersey is just 47-67-4 with 19 ties. Their .427 winning percentage is the fifth worst in franchise history.
Boston averages 3.40 goals-per game against New Jersey. Only five other teams average more goals against the Devils, and just one is in the Eastern Conference.
In 17 games against the Devils, Krejci has 12 points (5g, 7a). Half of that came last season, when he collected six points (4g, 2a) against New Jersey.
In 20 games against the Bruins, Clarkson has nine points (6g, 3a) and 20 hits. A third of his points, and half of his goals against the Bruins, came during last year’s season series. Clarkson finished with three points, all goals.
*The NHLPA is currently in the process of ratifying the new CBA agreement. The players association began the voting process last night via a secret ballot.