The Boston Bruins (3-0-0) will finally return to TD Garden to open the home portion of their 2019-20 schedule tonight. The Bruins take on the new-look New Jersey Devils (0-2-2) who are still looking for their first victory of the season. It’s the first of three meetings between the sides this season and the only one at TD Garden.
Bruins Still Getting Used To New Digs
This will be the Bruins’ first regular season game in the revamped TD Garden and to help his players get used to the new digs, even more, head coach Bruce Cassidy had the team hold their morning skate at the Garden Saturday morning. He also was being cautious of his players not quite being reacclimated to being home after nine days on the road.
“Coming off this trip, late night, I don’t think we’re up to speed yet – I’ll be perfectly honest,” Cassidy said I think guys are still adjusting to the time change, getting back at 7 in the morning, getting their feet under them today. It will be a challenge for us to get an on-time start. That will be the biggest challenge for us, to make sure myself, the coaching staff, leadership group, make sure the guys are ready to play.
We wanted them to come down early, get them looking around out of the way. Hockey players are creatures of habit, so if something is out of place it can affect them. Other guys can sort of brush it off. I think a lot of guys like things the way they are and want to focus on the game and not worry about every little detail. That’s part of the newness. We have to get over that in a hurry. I know it sounds juvenile, but sometimes that’s just the way it is in a new workplace.”
Ritchie Back In
Brett Ritchie will be back on the right wing of the third line with Charlie Coyle at center and Danton Heinen on the left flank. David Backes and Par Lindholm will be healthy scratches.
Cassidy emphasized that by no means is this a reflection that either Lindholm or Backes have played poorly but rather that it’s early in the season and he’s still mixing and matching.
“That’s how it’s working tonight,” the Bruins bench boss said. “Monday, we’ll see how it goes. Ritchie, Backes, [Chris] Wagner bring some of the same characteristics. Still keeping an eye on [Karson Kuhlman] up there [on the second line]. There was some competition on the right side.
“That’s where we’re at with it right now. It’s a little early to say who’s where. Happy with everyone, but clearly no one has separated themselves. Until they do, we’ll mix and match.”
Devils Not Meeting Expectations
New Jersey suffered a heartbreaking 4-3 shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, giving up the tying goal with just over a minute remaining. The Bruins, meanwhile, dropped a 4-3 decision to the Colorado Avalanche in Denver. It was the Bruins first loss of the season, dropping them to 3-1-0.
The Devils have a very different look from the last time to Bruins saw them. Up front, the club added KHL sniper Nikita Gusev in a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights. He joins first overall pick Jack Hughes and veteran power forward Wayne Simmonds as new weapons in the Garden State. Defensively, the Devils added PK Subban via trade. This Devils team is much quicker and possesses more skill than usual.
Unfortunately for the Devils, all of those off-season additions have not resulted in victories. New Jersey is 0-2-2 through four games and has struggled possession wise. The Devils have been plagued by bad goaltending and a lack of defensive depth. They surrender far too many chances against. That should benefit a deep Bruins team.
New Jersey Devils Lines
Taylor Hall – Nico Hischier – Kyle Palmieri
Blake Coleman – Travis Zajac – Miles Wood
Pavel Zacha – Jack Hughes – Wayne Simmonds
Nikita Gusev – Kevin Rooney – Jesper Bratt
Damon Severson – PK Subban
Sami Vatanen – Will Butcher
Mirco Mueller – Connor Carrick
No word yet on a starting goaltender, but the expectation is that Cory Schneider will get the nod for the Devils. New Jersey possesses speed and skill on every forward line. Taylor Hall is a franchise forward, while Jack Hughes will eventually be the face of this franchise. Gusev’s elite shot makes his a threat at the bottom of the depth chart, while the Zajac line is quick and has a strong two-way element to it.
The Devils speed will give the Bruins problems tonight, they attack quick. Their big issue? The Devils defense is weak and surrenders a lot of chances.
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Karson Kuhlman
Danton Heinen – Charlie Coyle – Brett Ritchie
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Connor Clifton
Tuukka Rask will get his third start of the season in the home opener. Rask is 2-0-0 on the season, knocking off the Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights. Coach Bruce Cassidy split the four road games between Rask and backup Jaroslav Halak.
The Bruins will be facing a little adversity for the first time this year. The club dropped a 4-2 decision in Denver on Thursday and had two goals disallowed via video review. It was bad luck loss for the club, putting a sour taste in their mouth after what was a largely successful road trip.
Tonight opens a tough three game home stand for the Bruins. They’ll the 4-1-0 Ducks on Monday afternoon and then get a visit from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night. After that, it’s a home-and-home with the rival Toronto Maple Leafs.
Puck drop is at 7:00 pm on NESN. Stay tuned to Boston Hockey Now for all the latest news and information!