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Game 12: Boston Bruins @ New Jersey Devils Lines, Preview

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Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins (6-5-0, 12 pts) travel to New Jersey for a Saturday matinee against the Devils (7-3-2, 16 pts) at the Prudential Center for their first meeting of the regular season (NHL Network, MSG+, NESN, 98.5 the Sports Hub).

The Bruins head into Saturday’s game with some serious defensive issues to work out after allowing five goals to the Oilers, including three in the third period, in a Thursday night home loss to Edmonton. The Bruins sit in a four-way tie for 20th in the NHL in team defense while allowing three goals per game, and veteran forwards like Craig Smith, Erik Haula and Nick Foligno are all still looking for the first goals of the season in very slow starts to the year.

Boston Bruins Notes

-The Boston Bruins will be making a switch on their top power play unit with Nick Foligno in front of the net, and Taylor Hall dropped to the focal point of the second power play unit. Part of it was Hall’s relative inexperience playing the net-front role on the power play, and some of it is pre-scouting a Devils PK that gives up chances in front of the net.

“The goals they do give up are with screens,” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “Nick Foligno, it’s definitely in his skill set to be able to get there and distract the goalie and be a net-presence.”

– The Bruins got a pair of regulars back on Thursday night as Nick Foligno returns after missing eight games with an upper body injury, and fourth liner Anton Blidh will replace the injured Trent Frederic, who took a massive hit in Tuesday’s win over the Senators and is out with an upper body injury. The Bruins are hoping that Foligno’s return will bring some liveliness to the bench and perhaps a little more grittiness on the ice.

-Oskar Steen has been promoted from the Providence Bruins and could be in the lineup to help jump-start a middle-6 forward group that’s done very little offensively to this point this season. Steen leads the P-Bruins with five goals and 10 points in seven AHL games and has an assist in his only game with the Boston Bruins this season. Ahead of game time, Bruce Cassidy said that it would instead be Karson Kuhlman replacing a banged up Craig Smith in the lineup.

-Boston Bruins winger Trent Frederic (upper body) is out of the lineup after taking a massive hit from Ottawa defenseman in the second period of Tuesday night’s win over the Senators. Frederic will be missing his second straight game with the injury.

-The Boston Bruins are an unsightly 1-4-0 on the road thus far this season and really need to start picking it up again away from TD Garden. Jeremy Swayman gets the start for the Bruins as he continues to build on a two-game winning streak where he’s stopped 39-of-42 shots for a .929 save percentage while beginning to seize control of the goalie workload.

New Jersey Devils Notes

– It could be a tall task for the Bruins as the Devils went 5-1-2 against the Boston Bruins last season, their best record against any opponent last year. They’re also playing good hockey having won two in a row over the Florida Panthers and New York Islanders while outscoring them by a combined 11-3 margin during that span.

“Overall, we defended well against them and I thought [two wins against them early in the season] set the tone for the rest of the season,” said Devils head coach Lindy Ruff. “We were pretty consistent against them all season. Right now, they’re desperate for consistency and to get on track and we know we’re going to have to work hard for a win.”

-Andreas Johnsson leads the Devils with six goals and 10 points this season, and Nico Hischier is riding a four-game point streak where he’s got a goal and five points.

-Dougie Hamilton returned to the lineup for Thursday’s win over the Islanders after missing the three previous games with a lower body injury and registered an assist in the win. Jack Hughes (dislocated left shoulder), Jaros and Miles Wood (hip) are out for the Devils.

-Mackenzie Blackwood is coming off a 42-save shutout performance against the Islanders and it’s expected he’s going to get the start against the Bruins.

Boston Bruins Lines

Forwards:

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Taylor Hall – Charlie Coyle – Nick Foligno

Jake DeBrusk – Erik Haula – Karson Kuhlman

Anton Blidh – Tomáš Nosek – Curtis Lazar

Defense:

Derek Forbort – Charlie McAvoy

Matt Grzelcyk – Brandon Carlo

Jakub Zboril – Connor Clifton

Goalies:

Jeremy Swayman

Linus Ullmark

New Jersey Devils Lines

Forwards:

Zacha-Hischier-Holtz

Johnsson-Mercer-Bratt

Kuokkonen-Boqvist-Tatar

Vesey-McLeod-Thompson

Defense:

Graves-Hamilton

Smith-Severson

Siegenthaler-Subban

Goalies:

Blackwood

Bernier

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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