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.”
When and Where
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.
Head to Head
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.
- Mark Recchi became the 30th player in NHL history to surpass both 1,000 points and 1,000 penalty minutes when he picked up five minutes for fighting Ottawa’s Chris Campoli on Saturday. It was Recchi’s first penalty of the season and his first fighting major since March 5, 2004.
- The Bruins have scored at least three goals in every road game they’ve played this season, but have had more than two goals just once in six games at the Garden. That came in the home opener back on Oct. 21. In the five home games since, they have a total of six goals.
- Rookie Jordan Caron scored his first NHL goal on Brodeur in Boston’s win in New Jersey in October, and added two more goals in the next five games. But Caron has no goals and just one point in the last six games.
- Eight different Devils have made their NHL debuts this season as injuries and cap issues have forced New Jersey to dip into the prospect pool at their AHL affiliate in Albany early and often this year. Those rookies include Alexander Vasyunov and Mattias Tedenby, who each scored their first NHL goals in Friday’s win over Edmonton.
- New Jersey is 3 for 5 on the power play in its last two games, but still ranks 27th in the league at 11.8 percent (6-51). The Devils had gone 0 for 13 in the previous five games and 1 for 33 in the previous 10 games before finally starting to produce on the man-advantage in the last two games.
- Ilya Kovlchuk had just one shot on Friday, but it produced the game-winning goal in overtime. Still, Kovalchuk hasn’t been producing shots at his usually prolific rate. He’s had two or less shots in eight of the 16 games he’s played, and with just 45 shots so far, he’s on pace for 228 this season. Kovalchuk had 290 shots last year and hasn’t had less than 275 shots in a season since he had 184 as a rookie in 2001-02.
- Center David Krejci (concussion) is out at least another week.
- Defenseman Johnny Boychuk (fractured left forearm) hopes to return next weekend.
- Center Marc Savard (post-concussion syndrome) is out indefinitely.
- Left wing Marco Sturm (knee surgery) is expected to be out until at least early December.
- Center Trent Whitfield (ruptures Achilles) could miss the entire year.
- Forward Zach Parise (knee surgery) is on injured reserve.
- Forward Jamie Langenbrunner (upper body) is questionable for Monday’s game.
- Defenseman Bryce Salvador (concussion) is on injured reserve.
- Defenseman Anssi Salmela (knee surgery) is on injured reserve.
- Defenseman Mark Fraser (broken hand) is on injured reserve.
- Defenseman Matthew Corrente (broken hand) is questionable for Monday’s game.
- Forward Jacob Josefson (hand surgery) is on injured reserve.
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.