The Boston Bruins (12-3-5, 29 points) visit Newark, New Jersey for the first time this season as they get set to battle the New Jersey Devils (7-8-4, 18 points). It’s the second of three meetings between the sides this season. The final matchup is on New Year’s Eve in Newark. The Bruins blanked the Devils 3-0 in their home opener on October 12th.
The Bruins are coming off of a tough 3-2 loss on Saturday night where they surrendered the tying goal with less than a minute to play. The Devils, meanwhile, defeated Montreal 4-3 in overtime on Saturday night. Puck drop is 7:00 pm on NESN.
The Bruins will be getting at least two forwards back tonight it appears. That means the Bruins lines will get a slight shuffle. Head coach Bruce Cassidy expects both Jake DeBrusk and Brett Ritchie to return to the lineup tonight. Ritchie has missed the last five games, while DeBrusk has been out for two weeks with a lower-body injury. They skated together on the third line Monday at practice with Par Lindholm at center.
“Feeling good, feeling pretty close to game ready,” DeBrusk said on Monday. “First practice with the boys and just nice to be back on the ice. Felt pretty good out there, looking upwards.” DeBrusk has appeared in 15 games this season, scoring just three goals.
“It’s been tough watching these games,” DeBrusk admitted. “Ever since I’ve been out its been hard to watch, but in saying that the boys have been battling and I just wanna go back out on the ice as fast as possible.” Cassidy anticipates both he and Ritchie will play tonight, but was sure to officially mention that they are “game-time decisions”.
Patrice Bergeron, who missed Saturday’s tilt, also could return to the lineup. He did not skate yesterday, but will travel to New Jersey, per Cassidy. He is also officially a game-time decision. That would also change the Bruins lines if he is able to go.
Torey Krug will not play tonight, but is close to a return. Cassidy said he is looking at later this week for a Krug return to action. That could come on Thursday night when the Bruins host Buffalo. If not then, Saturday against the Wild could be the target.
The Bruins recalled forward Brendan Gaunce and defenseman Urho Vaakanainen on Monday morning. It is Gaunce’s first recall with the Bruins, while Vaakanainen had just been sent back to Providence on Sunday night. Gaunce is likely insurance if Bergeron cannot go. A two-way veteran center, Gaunce played three games for the Vancouver Canucks a season ago. He registered three points (1 g, 2 a). He’s appeared in eleven games with AHL Providence, accumulating seven points (4 g, 3 a).
Vaakanainen, meanwhile, remains in the NHL with Krug not yet ready to return to action. He’s appeared in three games this season and is yet to record his first NHL point. In 15 games with Providence, the Finnish defenseman has two points (0 g, 2 a) and an even rating.
With Krug and Bergeron both likely back in the lineup by the weekend, both Gaunce and Vaakanainen appear slated for short stays in Boston.
Sail On, Eagle
Marblehead native and former Boston College Eagles goalie Cory Schneider was place on waivers yesterday by the Devils. If he clears waivers, he will be assigned to Binghamton of the AHL. The Boston College product was once one of the best goalies in the NHL and one of the best New England natives in the league. From 2010-2016, he never once posted a save percentage below .924, keeping some truly poor Devils teams in the chase.
The wheels fell off for Schneider in 2016-17, when his save percentage dipped to .908. He’s dealt with hip injuries since then and has never been able to recover. His recent struggles should not mask what was a great career, however.
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Anders Bjork – Charlie Coyle – Danton Heinen
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Brett Ritchie
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Brandon Carlo – Matt Grzelcyk
Urho Vaakanainen – Connor Clifton
*Lines updated after morning skate*
As always, the Bruins lines are subject to change. This is how the Bruins lined up yesterday, with Bergeron and Krug missing practice. Krug is confirmed as out, while Bergeron is a game-time decision. Cassidy said Bergeron is “feeling better” while DeBrusk and Ritchie “look good to go”.
David Backes (upper-body), Zach Senyshyn (lower-body) and Karson Kuhlman (hairline tibia fracture) are all out as well. Rask is the expected starter, he last played Friday against the Maple Leafs.
New Jersey Devils Lines
Taylor Hall – Nico Hischier – Jesper Bratt
Miles Wood – Jack Hughes – Kyle Palmieri
Blake Coleman – Travis Zajac – Nikita Gusev
John Hayden – Pavel Zacha – Wayne Simmonds
Will Butcher – P.K. Subban
Andy Greene – Damon Severson
Micro Mueller – Sami Vatanen
Connor Carrick (broken finger) has been sidelined since having surgery on October 28th. Local product Kevin Rooney (upper-body) is out for tonight’s game, per Amanda Stein of the Devils. Vatanen (upper-body) is expected to return to the lineup tonight. He has not played since getting hurt on November 8th against the Oilers in Edmonton.