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Game 29: Boston Bruins Vs. New Jersey Devils Lines, Preview

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The Boston Bruins (16-10-2, 34 pts), will try to keep the New Year good times rolling when they host an undermanned New Jersey Devils (13-15-5, 31 points) group at TD Garden on Tuesday night (7 pm, NESN, MSG+).

Despite getting smacked by injuries and COVID absences, the Devils have won three games in a row and have to be considered a dangerous hockey team at this point.

The Bruins are back in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference after back-to-back wins over the Sabres and Red Wings last weekend. The Black and Gold won 5-1 in Detroit on Sunday afternoon and benefited from a number of line combination changes coming out of the break including David Pastrnak down to the second line with Taylor Hall, and Craig Smith skating on the right wing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

Hall, Smith, Erik Haula, Nick Foligno, Trent Frederic and Tomas Nosek all checked into the scoring column over the last two games as the Bruins poured out nine even-strength goals after struggling in that category all season.

Linus Ullmark (8-5-0, 2.55 goals against average with a .919 save percentage) will get the start for the Bruins and is coming off a win vs. his old Sabres team on Saturday afternoon when he stopped 21-of-24 shots in the OT victory.

Boston Bruins Notes

–Oskar Steen will get another look on Tuesday night, this time on the third line with Nick Foligno and Charlie Coyle, and now has three assists in four games for the Black and Gold this season. Combined with his 10 goals and 20 points in 16 AHL games with the P-Bruins this season, the 23-year-old Steen is pushing hard for a more permanent role at the NHL level.

“What’s happened is [that] he’s come up and played well,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said of Steen. “So, yeah, we’ve got a decision to make when it comes to him. You’ve got these depth [players] in our lineup, contract situations, roster issues, so [it] becomes a little bit of asset management as well. I mean, he doesn’t need waivers. It happens to certain guys in the league and throughout the league at times.

“Eventually you push your way through where you won’t get taken out and then you adjust your roster, right?

-Nick Foligno scored his first goal in a Boston Bruins uniform on Saturday afternoon as he scooped up the rebound of a Jake DeBrusk net drive from the neutral zone and flipped it over Ukko Pekka Luukkonen for a goal that sparked a third period comeback. The Bruins hope it sparks the veteran forward, but also benefitted from his strong leadership in the comeback victory.

“I’ll tell you what else I liked about him, he was vocal on the bench when we were behind. [He was] a good, positive influence,” said Bruce Cassidy of Foligno. “So some of those intangibles, we talk how you might not see on the scoresheet or on the television or if you’re in the building. They help you sort of settle in and get your focus back. A lot of positives for Nick tonight.”

-Jake DeBrusk is out for Tuesday night’s game against the Devils after being placed on the league’s COVID protocol. He’ll be replaced by Oskar Steen, who will be playing his second game in a row after notching an assist in Sunday’s win vs. Detroit.

-Linus Ullmark will be starting his second game in a span of four days after serving as the winning goaltender on Saturday afternoon.

New Jersey Devils Notes

-The New Jersey Devils are a hurting, undermanned unit as they arrive in Boston for Tuesday night’s game. They’ve lost No. 1 defenseman Dougie Hamilton indefinitely are suffering a broken jaw after getting hit in the face with a deflected puck. Christian Jaros will replace Hamilton in the lineup.

-Nico Hischier is out with a lower body injury and goaltender Jonathan Bernier is out for the season with hip surgery.

-Yegor Sharangovich and Pavel Zacha have entered COVID-19 protocols for the Devils as well, and both will be out for Tuesday night’s game. The Devils have young forwards Alexander Holtz and Nolan Foote on the taxi squad, and Tomas Tatar could draw back into the lineup as well.

–Mackenzie Blackwood (8-6-3, 3.22 goals against average and .897 save percentage) is expected to get the start for the Devils and will need to have a big performance between the pipes given the circumstances.

Boston Bruins Lines

Forwards:

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Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Craig Smith

Taylor Hall – Erik Haula – David Pastrnak

Nick Foligno – Charlie Coyle – Oskar Steen

Trent Frederic – Tomáš Nosek – Curtis Lazar

Defense:

Matt Grzelcyk – Charlie McAvoy

Mike Reilly – Brandon Carlo

Derek Forbort-Connor Clifton

Goalies:

Linus Ullmark

Jeremy Swayman

New Jersey Devils Lines

Forwards:

Tomas Tatar–Jack Hughes–Jesper Bratt
Nolan Foote–Alexander Holtz–Tomas Tatar
Andreas Johnsson–Dawson Mercer–Janne Kuokkanen
Marian Studenic–Michael McLeod–Nathan Bastian

Defense:

Ryan Graves–P.K. Subban
Jonas Siegenthaler–Damon Severson
Ty Smith–Christian Jaros

Goalies:

Mackenzie 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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Tom

Woah, Tomas Tatar must get TIRED and CONFUSED playing left wing on the first line and right wing on the second line.
No Miles Wood tonight? What’s up with him?

William Mahoney

The Devils – Hughes was the most impressive offensive player that I have seen this season! Where did he come from ; bruins could use him!

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