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Devils wary of Bruins' top line

Tuesday, 03.18.2014 / 4:09 PM ET / News
By Mike G. Morreale  - NHL.com Staff Writer
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Devils wary of Bruins\' top line

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils begin a critical five-game homestand at Prudential Center on Tuesday against the best team in the Eastern Conference.

The Boston Bruins not only enter the game having won nine straight, but have limited the opposition to two or fewer goals in eight of those games. They sport an impressive plus-72 goal differential and rank third in the NHL with a 3.19 goals-per-game average and second with a 2.12 goals-against average.

"We know they are good; I don't need to look at the goal differential to know they are a good hockey team," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "We see where they are in the standings. We look at the success they've had and see their roster. They are a good team and it'll be a good test."

Martin Brodeur, who likely will start in goal for the Devils, is 25-22-10 with a 2.58 GAA, four shutouts and .908 save percentage in 59 career games against the Bruins.

The Bruins beat the Minnesota Wild 4-1 at TD Garden in Boston on Monday and did not practice at Prudential Center on Tuesday. The game against the Devils is the 13th of 17 back-to-back sets this season for Boston and the first of a three-game road trip. The Bruins, five points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference, are 10-2-0 in the second game of back-to-backs. Following the Devils, Boston plays at the Colorado Avalanche on Friday and at the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday.

Devils defenseman Andy Greene was asked if catching the Bruins in the second game of a back-to-back is to their advantage.

"You would hope so," he said. "We've been on the other end of those a few times this year. We just can't give them second chances or give them life. We need to come out early with a big push."

The Devils, who come off consecutive road losses against the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, are 5-4-0 since the Olympic break and trail the New York Rangers for the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs by five points with one game in hand.

If the Devils are to make a move in the standings and qualify for the postseason, now would be the time as they play 10 of the final 14 games at home. The Devils are 16-8-7 at Prudential Center, 8-1-2 in the past 11 home games.

"We've been a good home team this year; we've been more confident at home than on the road," DeBoer said. "That doesn't necessarily mean we will win these games because you still have to put the work in, but I think we feel good about getting the matchups we want and about playing in our building."

One of the best lines in hockey right now is Boston's top trio of Jarome Iginla, David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Over the past 15 games that line has produced 49 points. Iginla, who played in his 1,300th NHL game Monday, has 19 points (10 goals, nine assists) in that span; Krejci has 14 points (five goals, nine assists) and Lucic has 16 points (six goals, 10 assists).

For the season, Krejci leads the Bruins with 59 points (16 goals, 43 assists), followed by Iginla's 55 (25 goals, 30 assists) and Lucic's 52 (21 goals, 31 assists).

"They can roll four lines and can score goals," Devils forward Jaromir Jagr said. "That was the case when I was there too. The goalies are very good and the defense can stop opponents and make plays offensively. There aren't many teams in the League capable of getting that kind of production every night."

Bruins coach Claude Julien wasn't available in the morning since his team didn't skate, so any lineup changes won't be made public until prior to puck drop.

Goalie Tuukka Rask earned his sixth straight win Monday. He is 3-2-2 with a 1.44 GAA, two shutouts and .952 save percentage in eight career games against the Devils.

Defenseman Johnny Boychuk sat out the Bruins' win Monday with a lower-body injury and remains day-to-day.

The Devils recalled forward Tim Sestito from the team's American Hockey League affiliate, the Albany Devils, and he arrived late Monday night. Sestito likely will be in the lineup Tuesday on a line with Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier. Ryan Carter remains out with an upper-body injury.

"These are the most fun games to play in," Sestito said. "It's an important game for the team and it starts off the home stretch. I'll play physical and defensively at first, and if I can put something in the net that would be a lift for everyone."

The only other lineup change for the Devils comes on defense where DeBoer will replace Anton Volchenkov with rookie Eric Gelinas.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 53 31 16 6 143 118 68
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 TBL 52 29 19 4 138 123 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
8 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
9 NJD 54 26 21 7 120 122 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
L. Stempniak 54 15 24 6 39
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
K. Palmieri 54 20 15 3 35
A. Henrique 52 17 17 14 34
T. Zajac 46 8 18 7 26
D. Schlemko 46 6 9 -8 15
A. Larsson 54 2 11 12 13
D. Severson 50 1 12 0 13
A. Greene 54 4 6 2 10
J. Josefson 43 3 7 -13 10
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 23 16 6 .929 2.03
K. Kinkaid 3 5 1 .909 2.52
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