But these Devils aren’t quite the Devils of old. New Jersey has struggled in all facets of the game this season, with even their vaunted defensive system showing serious cracks. New Jersey has just five wins in 17 games, and has allowed 56 goals already while scoring just 33.
But the Bruins can’t take anything for granted when they welcome the Devils to the Garden on Monday. The Bruins have been struggling themselves of late, winning just once in their last five games and dropping back-to-back division games to Montreal and Ottawa in their last two outings.
The Bruins managed just one goal in those two games, forcing coach Claude Julien to forgo the club’s usual off day on Sunday and hold practice to work on the correcting some of the issues that have crept into the Bruins’ game.
Julien knows that while New Jersey has struggled, the Bruins might be catching the Devils at a bad time. New Jersey is 2-1-1 in its last four games, and finally won its first home game of the year in their last outing, edging Edmonton 4-3 in overtime on Friday as the Devils’ young lineup is starting to mature.
“That’s the one thing, they’ve won so they have a little bit of confidence,” said Julien. “When young guys come up, they’re all there to prove themselves and they usually work harder than anybody else. Those are the ones that you have to be careful about. Right now I would say with the way we’ve played the last few games we need to really not worry about what’s coming up against us, but more about what we’re going to do in our game. I think we really have to find our game again and start playing with the confidence and the execution that we had when things were going well. I think we’ve lost a little bit of that lately.”
Boston Bruins (8-5-1, 17 points) vs. New Jersey Devils (5-10-2, 12 points)
Nov. 15, 7 p.m. (NESN)
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.
This is the second meeting of the season between the Bruins and Devils. Boston rolled to a 4-1 win in New Jersey with four unanswered goals in the second period on Oct. 16. That pushed the Bruins’ lead in the all-time series to 65-36-19-10. The Bruins also hold a 34-18-8-6 edge on the Devils in games played in Boston.
Tim Thomas suffered his first loss of the season on Saturday, but still remains an impressive 8-1-0 with a 1.45 GAA, a .957 save percentage and three shutouts this season. He is just 5-5-3 with a 2.43 GAA and a .920 save percentage against New Jersey. Tuukka Rask is still looking for his first win of the season at 0-4-1 with a 2.75 GAA and a .923 save percentage, though he has had success against the Devils. Rask is 1-0-2 with an 0.69 GAA, .974 save percentage and a shutout in three games against New Jersey.
Martin Brodeur holds NHL records for wins (606) and shutouts (112), but has struggled this year at 4-8-1 with a 2.71 GAA and a .903 save percentage. He is 24-16-9 with a 2.42 GAA, a .915 save percentage and four shutouts against the Bruins. Backup Johan Hedberg is 1-2-1 with a 4.64 GAA and an .855 save percentage this year and just3-8-2 with a 3.01 GAA and .902 save percentage against Boston. His GAA this season is the worst of all 44 goalies who have appeared in a game in the NHL so far this season.
Forward Brian Rolston came to the Bruins from Colorado as part of the Ray Bourque trade and had 236 points in 338 games with Boston through 2004. He returned to the lineup on Friday after missing 13 games with a sports hernia. Defenseman Matt Taormina played at Providence College from 2005-09. Off the ice, Devils assistant coach Adam Oates piled up 499 points in 368 games with the Bruins from 1991-97, goaltending coach Chris Terreri starred at Providence College, while GM Lou Lamoriello was born in Providence and was a coach and athletic director for the Friars before heading to the pro ranks. Bruins coach Claude Julien spent the 2006-07 season behind the New Jersey bench, where current Devils head coach John MacLean was one of his assistants.
The Devils have 13 fighting majors through 17 games, led by David Clarkson’s four. Rod Pelley and Adam Mair each have a pair, while five others each have one, including Kovalchuk. Fraser and Corrente each suffered broken hands in their lone bouts of the year, contributing to New Jersey’s lengthy injury list. After having a seven-game fight streak snapped against Montreal, the Bruins began a new run with two fights against Ottawa on Saturday as captain Zdeno Chara and Recchi each dropped the gloves for the first time this season. Boston now has 17 fighting majors in just 14 games, with Mark Stuart and Greg Campbell each contributing three and Shawn Thornton, Milan Lucic and Adam McQuaid each adding two. There were no fights in the first meeting this year, but last year Thornton fought both Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond and Andrew Peters, both of whom are now in the AHL, and Stuart took on Pelley. Lucic also fought Mair, then with the Sabres, last season.
The Bruins will look to snap their recent skid and finally enjoy some success at home as they try to avoid going 0-fer on their three-game homestand. This will be Boston’s fourth game in six nights, part of a busy November stretch that features 11 games in 19 days. They’re using up their games in hand on their Eastern Conference rivals after a light workload in October, and they need to start getting points out of these games.
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