It’s been a few years since the New Jersey Devils missed the postseason and they’ve gone to the playoffs for 15 of the past 16 years. But the way they’re playing right now puts the defending Eastern Conference Champions in jeopardy as far as even making the dance is concerned. The Boston Bruins should take note: coming into tonight, the Devils have lost their past seven games. Of course, playing at home may make them hungry to change their tune and put up a win, so the Bruins need to be cognizant of this as well–and of how the Montreal Canadiens lost in regulation last night, earning nary a single point and leaving the door open for the Bruins to possibly take the Northeast Division lead this evening.
These two teams met very recently in what was Jaromir Jagr‘s first game as a Bruin. He scored the lone goal en route to a Bruins 1-0 win. Boston has been pretty stingy in the department of allowing goals lately–in their past five games, they’ve allowed only six goals. Of course, conversely, they’ve also had trouble putting the biscuit in the basket themselves. The goal-scoring festival they put on in their most recent game was the most they’ve scored in a single game this season. The lines utilized in that festival will be used again in this game.
Tuukka Rask, who has been a very busy guy lately because he’s faced more than 40 shots in more than one recent match, has such a good record against New Jersey: 3-1-1, 0.95 goals-against average and two shutouts. But he’s getting a bit of a break tonight as coach Claude Julien just announced that Anton Khudobin will be in this evening. Considering that the Bruins are playing their last back-to-back of the regular season and that the surprisingly good New York Islanders are up next, this is probably a wise decision. Rask can come in tomorrow night.
There’s some great news on the Patrice Bergeron front today. General manager Peter Chiarelli said in a radio call-in that Bergeron has been working out and is on the road to recovering from his concussion. I also heard from a few different sources that he was in the house at the Bruins’ most recent game, a quiet presence. There isn’t an official timetable for his return, but the fact that he’s being spoken about in positive terms like this remains hopeful.
Speaking of injuries: Adam McQuaid traveled with the team and, on the Devils side, Ilya Kovalchuk has a shoulder injury.
Tonight’s game will be solely on NBC Sports Network as part of their perhaps ill-conceived Rivalry Wednesday feature. Having seen some matchups passed off dubiously as rivalries this season, NBCSN should consider making Rivalry Wednesday a less common feature, saving it for games that are actually part of the league’s biggest rivalries and then using time during intermissions to educate viewers about big moments in the history of the beef. That would probably make too much sense, though. Look for Jack Edwards to tweet along with the game starting at 7:30 p.m. tonight.