In a great Friday night match up, the Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils will face off at the Devil’s Prudential Center. The Bruins are really hurtung for a big victory after losing five of their last six games and skidding downwards. They’re averaging 3.1 goals per game and are scoring on 28.4 percent of their power plays yet they can’t find ways to win. Bruin Patrice Bergeron leads the team with a meager 15 goals, Loui Eriksson has 20 assists and Brad Marchand has 110 shots on goal, but he’s coming off league suspension.
Defensively, the Bruins are not as bad as their losses may make them look, they are allowing 2.7 goals per game but they’re killing 82.1 percent of their power play chances. Goalie Tuukka Rask has allowed 70 goals on 811 shots faced, and able back up, Jonas Gustavsson has given up 27 goals on 287 shots. But Rask’s performance of late has not been so string, he’s allowed 11 goals in his last three games. And when you give up that many goals you will probably not be in the win column.
On the other side, the New Jersey Devils are trying to get over .500 and find some consistency in their play after splitting their last eight games. The Devils are averaging a better 2.2 goals per game record, and are scoring on 19.3 percent of their power plays, so that’s something their coach will want to work on. Devil, Kyle Palmieri leads the team with 17 goals, Michael Cammalleri has 21 assists and Adam Henrique has 77 shots on goal.
On the defensive side, New Jersey is allowing 2.3 goals per game and killing 82.9 percent of their power play chances, a tad better than the Bruins. Goalie Cory Schneider has allowed 70 goals on 965 shots faced, and back up Keith Kinkaid has given up 18 goals on 190 shots. Schneider has looked good of late, allowing only five goals in his last three starts.
If you look at records, the Bruins are 1-4 in their last 5 vs. Eastern Conference teams, and 38-15 in their last 53 games vs. teams from the Metropolitan division. The Devils are 1-4 in their last 5 games playing on 1 days rest and 16-33 in their last 49 vs. a team who has a winning record.
The Bruins do have the upper hand in head to heads, as they are 5-1 in the last 6 meetings in New Jersey and 16-5 in the last 21 meetings overall. So they have managed to dominate the Devils. More than keeping that trend alive, Boston needs a win so they can break out of their funk, and if they play smart and defensive hockey then the Devils are just what the Dr. ordered. The downside for them though since last meeting the Devils is that they have only won once in six games since beating the New Jersey Devils just three weeks ago.
Boston’s record is on the edge at 20-14-4, and they have gone 1-5-0 since the 2-1 shootout victory at home over New Jersey on Dec. 20. Back then, that win gave them 11 wins in a 15-game stretch. It was sweeter times. Four of the Bruins most recent five defeats came in five games at home, including the Winter Classic in nearby Foxborough, and that put them at 9-11-2 on home ice. So being on the road could be a blessing for them.
“It is a big road trip coming up, and we have to approach it that way,” coach Claude Julien told the Bruins’ official website. “I’m hoping that our group here is going to be ready for that challenge.
“There’s no reason for us to not have the confidence, with the record that we have on the road, and hopefully, we can have that and go out there and prove that we’ve still got a good road team.”
Boston has been held to two or fewer goals five times in the last seven games. The Bruins fought hard against the East’s top team this past Tuesday, but lost their second in a row, 3-2 against a formidable Washington Capitals.
“It’s tough because we’re so committed to winning and looking at results,” defenseman Torey Krug said. “But at this point in the season, we’ve got to start fine-tuning our game and trying to come away with points because our standings are so tight.
“So we’ll move on and we’ll take the positives, whatever it is, and just carry it into the next one.”
Tuukka Rask, who backed up Jonas Gustavsson against the Devils last month, is most likely going to be in net on the road where he’s a strong 7-2-2 with a 1.85 goals-against average.
Cory Schneider, who named an All-Star on Wednesday, has posted a 1.26 GAA in the last four games. He made 38 saves while losing his fourth straight start to Boston last month, but he should also be in net for this important match up.
The Devils have give up only seven goals in the last five games, but when they lost they’ve scored only one goal while losing two straight. Devil Adam Henrique scored early in the third period Wednesday cut the deficit to one at Montreal, but New Jersey fell to the Canadiens 2-1 any way.
“We’ll find a way to regroup and make sure we’re prepared to play against Boston,” Devils coach John Hynes told local media. He was uncertain if their leading scorer Mike Cammalleri would miss a fourth straight game with an upper-body injury. But like the winner of this one, nothing will be known until the teams hit the ice.
Our Pick: Devils over Bruins, 3-2