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Game 51: Boston Bruins @ New Jersey Devils Lines, Preview

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Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins (30-14-6, 66 pts) and the New Jersey Devils (17-27-7, 41 pts) will meet each other for the final two times this season when they begin a two-game series at the Prudential Center (7 PM ET, NESN, NHN, SN) on Monday night.

If the Boston Bruins get at least one point in Monday night’s game against the Devils at the Prudential Center, they will clinch a playoff spot for the fifth consecutive season under head coach Bruce Cassidy. The B’s are just a single point behind the New York Islanders and hold games in hand against the three East Division teams ahead of them, so it’s entirely possible that the Bruins will be able to finish with a higher seed after clinching the fourth spot.

“We want to clinch first. Hopefully, we take care of business [on Tuesday] and then we’ll start worrying about [other things]. You always want to finish as high in the standings as you can,” said Cassidy. “But I think this year more than any other year it’s not going to matter as much. You’ve got four really good teams [in the East Division] that have been jockeying all year.

“I guess the Islanders are the one that’s different with their discrepancy between the home and road records. That’s something you want to keep an eye on. And Pittsburgh falls into that category a bit as well. So as two of the three teams we might be facing, you want to keep an eye on that. But for us, our record is very balanced. We feel we can win no matter where the game is going to be played.”

Tuukka Rask will be back between the pipes for the Boston Bruins on Monday as he continues to round into playoff form. Rask is 13-4-2 with a 2.27 GAA and a .916 save percentage and went a perfect 5-0-0 during the month of April after returning from an upper body injury.

Devils backup Scott Wedgewood (3-6-3, 3.04 goals against average and .899 save percentage) will get the starting nod for the Devils.

 

Bruins Notes

-David Krejci has been a man on fire since the NHL trade deadline, clearly energized by the presence of power forward Taylor Hall on his line.

“He’s re-energized in terms of attacking,” Boston Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy said after the game Thursday. “That was an all-world play tonight, obviously, beating guys one-on-one. But he’s moving his feet and going north a little more. He’s got a guy on his left wing who can bomb down the wing, a guy on his right wing that can skate. I’d say the biggest thing is his pace. He’s playing with a little more pace. His wingers are maybe forcing him to do that. He’s making plays, obviously, and finishing plays while he’s doing it.”

Since the Boston Bruins acquired Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar from the Sabres, Krejci has been en fuego! The just-turned 35-year-old (April 28), veteran center has five goals and seven assists for 12 points in 11 games since being put in the middle of Hall and Craig Smith on April 13. The depth scoring that the trio has provided has been pivotal in the Bruins going 9-2-0 in their last ten games.

-Defenseman Mike Reilly is out for Monday night’s game with an issue that’s been nagging him over the last week. Jakub Zboril will replace him as a left side defenseman.

-Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk drew back into the lineup last weekend after being a healthy scratch for the last two games and will remain in the lineup for the Black and Gold on Monday night in New Jersey. DeBrusk replaced rookie power forward Trent Frederic in the lineup.

-Jaro Halak will back up Tuukka Rask.

–The Bruins’ powerplay went 1-for-4 on Saturday. They are now 31-for-146 on the man advantage this season. They’re 14th in the NHL with a 21.1% success rate.

-The PK killed off both of the Sabres powerplays on Saturday. They’re second in the NHL with an 86.2% success rate. They’ve killed off 146 of 169 powerplay attempts against them this season.

-Boston Bruins winger Chris Wagner has been out the last two games after suffering an injury on Thursday night, but did return to practice on Sunday. Karson Kuhlman will slot in for Wagner for the second straight game.

-Defenseman Brandon Carlo is just waiting for final medical clearance from an oblique strain to return on Tuesday night against the Devils in New Jersey. Kevan Miller is slated to play on Monday night for the Bruins but will sit on the second half of the back-to-back games as he has all season.

-Fellow rearguard John Moore is out for the season after undergoing hip surgery. Forward Ondrej Kase is still listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury but has been skating.

Devils Notes

-Former Boston University forward AJ Greet will be making his Devils debut on Monday night in New Jersey after being part of the Kyle Palmieri/Travis Zajac trade with the New York Islanders. It sounds like the Devils are expecting Greer to make a physical impact in the matchup with a Bruins team looking to sweep up some points tonight.

“We’re going to get a player that is hungry for the opportunity,” said Devils head coach Lindy Ruff. “He brings size and physicality at the same time.”

Greer had three goals and six assists in 10 games for the Binghamton Devils prior to getting called up from the AHL.

-Scott Wedgewood gets the starting nod between the pipes for the Devils. Wedgewood had a rough month of April with a goals against average over 5.00 and a .736 save percentage during three appearances last month.

-The Devils are 28th in the NHL in power play success rate this season with a paltry 14.6 percent rate for their PP.

-The Devils are also dead last in the NHL with a 70.4 percent success rate. Somehow, they have managed to give the Bruins a hard time this season despite a seemingly massive special teams mismatch between the two hockey clubs based on the statistics.

-PK Subban and Jonas Siegenthaler are both injured for the Devils and out on Monday night, but have begun working out off the ice.

Boston Bruins Lines

Forwards:

Brad Marchand – Charlie Coyle – David Pastrnak

Taylor Hall – David Krejci – Craig Smith

Nick Ritchie – Sean Kuraly – Charlie Coyle

Jake DeBrusk – Curtis Lazar – Karson Kuhlman

Defense:

Jeremy Lauzon – Charlie McAvoy

Matt Grzelcyk – Kevan Miller

Jakub Zboril – Connor Clifton

Goalies:

Tuukka Rask

Jaro Halak

New Jersey Devils Lines

Forwards:

Kuokkonen-Hughes-Sharangovich

Zacha-Hischier-Bratt

Greer-Bovquist-Merkley

Wood-McLeod-Bastian

Defense:

Murray-Severson

Butcher-Carrick

Bahl-Smith

Goalies:

Wedgewood

Blackwood

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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JustJim

4 games left to show Cassidy you don’t want to go to the Kraken, Jake.

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