The Boston Bruins (17-8-5, 39 pts, .650 points percentage) welcome a team that has been a thorn in their side this season as the New Jersey Devils (12-16-4, 24 pts, .438 points percentage) visit TD Garden for their third of four games in Boston this season.
After going 1-0-1 in their season-opening two-game set in New Jersey, the Boston Bruins have been unable to solve the Devils and more specifically goaltenders Mackenzie Blackwood and Scott Wedgewood.
“Good team speed, they’ve been opportunistic against us,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said of the Devils when asked why the Bruins lost 3-2 (on Feb. 18) and 1-0 (on March 7) to the Devils. “And they’ve got good goaltending…I think we have three or four goals whatever it is, so obviously they’ve done a good job defending us. That starts with the goalie.”
If the Bruins allow Wedgewood or Blackwood to creep into their minds tonight, they’ll likely lose their third straight against the Devils and they know they need to stay focused on themselves.
“At the end of the day, I think it’s more about us,” Cassidy went on. “We’ve got to play our game – this is three in four [nights]. We’ve got to find the energy. Having people in the building I think helps on a day like today where you might be down a little bit on the energy because of the schedule. Hopefully, the crowd will give us a bit of a boost. I know it’s not a full 18,000 but we sure heard them yesterday, so that will help, too, this time around whereas last time we didn’t have that.”
Cassidy confirmed that Jaro Halak (7-4-3, 2.25 GAA, .915 save percentage), will get the start tonight as Tuukka Rask remains sidelined with an upper-body injury.
Blackwood (8-9-4, 2.94, .904 save percentage) gets the nod for the Devils tonight.
-As mentioned above, Rask is out. As for the rest of the Bruins’ MASH Unit, forward Karson Kuhlman had an MRI Friday after blocking a shot in the loss to the Islanders on Thursday. The results showed no structural damage in Kuhlman’s hand, and he’s feeling good enough to get back into the lineup on Sunday afternoon. Anton Blidh will also draw in for the Bruins after being called up from Providence, and Chris Wagner and Greg McKegg will be healthy scratches against the Devils.
Defensemen Brandon Carlo (concussion), and Kevan Miller (knee) continue to skate and are getting closer, as is forward Ondrej Kase (concussion) but he’s not as close. Defenseman John Moore (undisclosed) is done for the season after undergoing hip surgery.
Forwards Brad Marchand Sean Kuraly and Jake DeBrusk remain on the NHL COVID List, but per Cassidy, there is a chance Marchand be cleared just prior to game time. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy hadn’t heard anything about Marchand’s status on Sunday morning when speaking with the media, so part of Blidh drawing into the lineup was replacing the PK ability lost if Marchand misses a second straight game.
–The Bruins’ powerplay went 0-for-5 Saturday. They are now 22-for-93 on the man advantage this season. They’re 11th in the NHL with a 23.7 percent success rate.
-The PK killed off the only two of the three Sabres’ powerplays Saturday and remains the best in the NHL with an 88.8 percent success rate. They’ve killed off 87 of 98 powerplay attempts against them this season.
-Ever since the month leading into the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline, Devils winger Kyle Palmieri has been a constant in NHL Trade rumors, and with the recent news that Palmieri and the Devils are far apart on a new deal for the impending UFA, expect the rumors to intensify. You can also expect the Boston Bruins to be linked to Palmieri until he’s dealt or re-signed.
-The Devils recently signed Providence College standout Tyce Thompson to an entry-level contract.
-Devils forward Nathan Bastien is week-to-week with a knee injury and Nico Hischier is day-to-day with a head injury.
-The Devils’ powerplay is ranked 27th in the NHL with a 14.1 percent success rate. The Devils are 13-for-92 on the man advantage.
-The Devils’ penalty kill has a 72.0 percent success rate and is ranked 29th in the NHL. They’ve killed off 57 of 93 powerplay attempts against them.
Boston Bruins Lines
Trent Frederic- Patrice Bergeron- David Pastrnak
Nick Ritchie- David Krejci- Craig Smith
Anders Bjork- Charlie Coyle- Zach Senyshyn
Anton Blidh- Jack Studnicka- Karson Kuhlman
Matt Grzelcyk – Charlie McAvoy
Jeremy Lauzon – Connor Clifton
Jakub Zboril – Steven Kampfer
New Jersey Devils Lines
Janne Kuokkanen-Travis Zajac-Yegor Sharangovich
Jesper Bratt-Pavel Zacha-Kyle Palmieri
Jesper Boqvist-Jack Hughes-Andreas Johnsson
Mikhail Maltsev-Michael McLeod-Miles Wood
Ty Smith-Damon Severson
Dmitry Kulikov-PK Subban
Ryan Murray-Sami Vatanen