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.
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (1-4-1) face off against the Montreal Canadiens (3-1-1) at the Bell Centre in Montreal. This is the first meeting between the teams this season.
The Last Devils Game: The Devils lost to the Boston Bruins, 4-1, Saturday at the Prudential Center. After a scoreless first period, Dainius Zubrus opened the scoring, giving the Devils a 1-0 lead at 3:45 of the second period. But that would be all the Devils would get, as Boston came roaring back to put the game away. Jordan Caron scored at 5:38 to tie the game at 1-1. Michael Ryder scored the eventual game-winning goal, connecting off a feed from Tyler Seguin to put the Bruins ahead, 2-1. Shawn Thornton increased the lead to 3-1 at 16:43 of the second. Milan Lucic capped the four-goal outburst, scoring at 18:09 to put the Bruins ahead, 4-1. Tim Thomas finished with 31 saves for the win. Martin Brodeur stopped 31 shots in the loss.
The Last Canadiens Game: The Canadiens defeated the Ottawa Senators, 4-3, Sunday at the Bell Centre. Trailing 3-1 in the second period, the Canadiens scored four straight goals to take the lead. Jeff Halpern began the comeback, netting his second goal at 13:39 of the second period. Andrei Kostitsyn tied the game, 3-3, at 17:29 of the second. Tomas Plekanec played hero, scoring the game-winner at 16:01 of the third period.
The Last Devils – Canadiens Game: The Devils won the final game of the series last season, 4-2, on March 27. Patrik Elias struck first for the Devils, giving the team a 1-0 lead with a powerplay goal at 8:11 of the first period. The teams traded goals in the second period, with the Devils holding a 3-2 advantage at the end of the second period. Brian Rolston added an empty-net goal in the third period to clinch the win.
Last season, the Devils won three of four from the Montreal Canadiens. For a full analysis of the historical matchup between the two teams, click here.
Welcome Home Marty! Brodeur makes his 60th career start against the Canadiens tonight, his most against a non-Atlantic Division opponent. In 30 appearances at Montreal, Broduer is 17-12-1 with a 1.80 goals against average, a .935 save percentage and four shutouts. In his career, Brodeur is 38-16-5 against the Habs, with a 1.78 GAA and eight shutouts. Brodeur admitted yesterday that he hasn’t been sharp to begin the season, but these meetings always seem to bring out the best in the veteran netminder.
Tonight’s Matchup: The Devils took three days to practice, and coach John MacLean put the team to work. They skated hard, practiced game situations and made significant moves throughout the lineup. But captain Jamie Langenbrunner said the positives from practice mean nothing if they don’t translate to a win.
“It depends on how we come out of it,” Langenbrunner said to Tom Gulitti. “We did have a good week of practice where we got the battle and work back in our game, but it’s how we respond on the ice tomorrow night for 60 minutes that counts. No one gives you any points for a practice.”
The Devils couldn’t be walking into a better situation to earn their second win of the season. Despite Montreal’s early success, New Jersey has always played them well, especially in their own building. The Devils are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games at the Bell Centre, and the team holds an overall record of 22-23-4 all time in Montreal. An almost .500 record against a team in their own building is respectable.
One thing New Jersey will have to do is meet the energy and pressure from the Canadiens. The Bell Centre will be loud, and the building will be a sellout. The Devils will need to respond to that energy and attempt to silence the crowd early. With some solid scoring and surprising play from Carey Price, the Canadiens won’t be a cakewalk. But the Devils, with four days to prepare, should be able to handle them in Montreal.
Game time is 7:30 p.m., and you can catch all the action on MSG Plus or WFAN 660.Remember to come back to The Devils’ Den for our live game blog, beginning at 7:15 pm!
Here are tonight’s starting lines, based off of the Devils’ pairings from practice yesterday:
Forwards: Zach Parise – Travis Zajac – Dainius Zubrus; Patrik Elias – Jacob Josefson – Ilya Kovalchuk; Rod Pelley – Jason Arnott – Jamie Langenbrunner; Adam Mair – Tim Sestito – David Clarkson
Defenseman: Henrik Tallinder – Matt Corrente; Matt Taormina – Colin White; Andy Greene – Olivier Magnan – Grenier
Goalies: Martin Brodeur; Johan Hedberg
The Matchup: The Boston Bruins (1-1-0) face off against the New Jersey Devils (1-3-1) at the Prudential Center. This is the first meeting between the teams this season.
The Last Bruins Game: The Bruins blanked the Coyotes, 3-0, last Sunday at the O2 Arena in Prague. After a scoreless first period, Milan Lucic gave Boston a 1-0 lead at 12:11 in the period. Nathan Horton extended the lead, putting Boston ahead, 2-0, at 19:57 of the period. Tyler Seguin then scored his first NHL goal to increase the lead and put the Bruins ahead, 3-0. Tim Thomas stopped 29 shots for the shutout.
The Last Devils’ Game: The Devils lost to the Avalanche, 3-2, last night at the Prudential Center. Despite outshooting Colorado 17-3 in the first period, the Avs took a 1-0 lead into the locker room thanks to a powerplay goal by Cody McLeod. TJ Galiardi extended the Avalanche lead to 2-0 at 11:48 of the second period. Matt Taormina cut the lead to 2-1 with his first NHL goal at 14:48 of the second period. Chris Stewart put the Avs ahead by two, scoring at 4:31 to put Colorado ahead 3-1. Ilya Kovalchuk cut the lead to one once again, scoring at 8:49 to bring the Devils’ within one. But they couldn’t finish their opportunities, and lost to the Avalanche.
The Last Bruins – Devils Matchup: The Bruins took the last meeting of the season, shutting out the Devils, 1-0, on March 30. Both teams played to a scoreless draw until overtime, when Patrice Bergeron fired home the game-winning goal with 19 seconds left in the extra period. Martin Brodeur stopped 33 shots in the losing effort. Tuukka Rask stopped 21 shots for his fifth shutout of the season.
For a full recap of the team’s historical matchup, click here.
Shaking The Rust (And Lag): The Bruins haven’t played in six days because they opened their season in Prague. That’s a long layoff, and we’ll see if that has any negative effects in tonight’s matchup.
Tonight’s Matchup: The Devils need to finish, plain and simple. They had 43 shots on Craig Anderson last night, and many were quality scoring chances. In three games, the Devils have put 109 shots on net and have only four goals to show for the effort. They need to start getting it done on the offensive end and burying their opportunities.
But last night’s game was also positive. The Devils were aggressive on the forecheck and really imposed their will in the first period. Brodeur didn’t have the best night in net, getting beat high on the three goals. But the team had another good effort last night. The Devils get to take on a team that hasn’t played in six days. Not only should the Devils have more jump in their step, but they should pressure the Bruins into several mistakes.
Game time is 7 p.m., and you can catch all the action on MSG Plus.
During the offseason, The Devils’ Den will preview the matchup between New Jersey and their opponents. New Jersey, which finished second in the conference and won the Atlantic Division last season, will look to duplicate their success and finally get out of the first round of the playoffs this season. In today’s second schedule preview, we focus on an Eastern Conference opponent – the Boston Bruins.
Bruins vs. Devils – Historical Data
The Devils and Bruins have faced off 129 times, with the Devils compiling a 46-61-19-3 record against them. The Devils average 2.81 goals for against Boston while allowing 3.37 goals against. The teams faced off four times last season, with the Devils winning the season series, 3-0-1.
The Devils won the first game, 2-1, on October 29, 2010 in Boston. David Clarkson gave the Devils a lead, scoring his third goal of the season at 13:25 of the first period. Patrice Bergeron tied the score for Boston in the second, and both teams stayed tied until late in the third period. Dainius Zubrus played hero, scoring the game-winning goal at 18:34 of the final period. Yann Danis made 31 saves in his Devils’ debut.
Almost a month later, the Devils defeated the Bruins in a shootout, 2-1. Zach Parise started the scoring, recording his 14th goal of the season at 9:45 of the first period. It would remain that way until the third period, when Blake Wheeler tied the score only 12 seconds into the period. In the shootout, the teams traded goals in the second round, with Wheeler and Parise both scoring. After David Krejci missed in the third round, Jamie Langenbrunner buried his opportunity for the win.
The game also carried extra significance. Martin Brodeur surpassed Patrick Roy for the most minutes played by a goaltender in the second period, breaking yet another record. The Devils also lost Clarkson to an ankle injury. In the first period, Clarkson blocked a shot from Zdeno Chara at the point, which would impact his health throughout the season.
The Devils extended their winning streak to three games over the Bruins with a win, 3-2, at the
Prudential Center on March 15. Rob Niedermayer began the scoring at 9:58 of the first period, scoring his ninth goal of the season. Clarkson and Parise scored goals 45 seconds apart, and the Devils held a three goal advantage at the first intermission. Wheeler scored a goal in the second period, and Bergeron scored in the third to make the game interesting. But the Devils would hold on to win the game.
The Bruins took the last meeting of the season, shutting out the Devils, 1-0, on March 30. Both teams played to a scoreless draw until overtime, when Bergeron fired home the game-winning goal with 19 seconds left in the extra period. Brodeur stopped 33 shots in the losing effort. Tuukka Rask stopped 21 shots for his fifth shutout of the season.
Devils vs. Bruins – This Season’s Matchup
The Devils and Bruins will once again face off four times this season, the first of those meetings coming on October 16. The Devils also will end the 2010-2011 season against each other. The Bruins made a big splash this offseason, signing second overall pick Tyler Seguin to an entry-level contract. The team also retained several players, re-signing Wheeler, Mark Stuart and Mark Recchi, among other players. The team also now has a clearer goalie picture, with Rask taking the reigns as the number one starter.
The Devils played well against the Bruins last season, but the team hasn’t historically done well against Boston. For the past few seasons, Boston has challenged for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. While they’re not a perennial power in the conference, the Bruins continually play tough games against the Devils. I would expect those four games to be tough and hard fought, and it seems as if a budding rivalry will continue to grow next season.
Other Important Stats
Bergeron became a Devil killer last season, netting three goals in four games against New Jersey. He was the most prolific scorer against the Devils last season. Meanwhile, the Devils depended on Clarkson and Parise, who both recorded three points (two goals, one assist) against Boston.