NEWS

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
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 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 CBJ 74 35 35 4 203 230 74
13 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 67 16 24 -2 40
M. Cammalleri 60 25 12 5 37
S. Gomez 50 7 24 -7 31
P. Elias 61 10 20 -16 30
S. Bernier 59 13 14 3 27
T. Zajac 66 11 12 -2 23
A. Larsson 56 3 19 3 22
A. Greene 74 3 17 5 20
M. Ryder 47 6 13 -1 19
E. Gelinas 54 6 11 -2 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 26 27 8 .928 2.19
K. Kinkaid 5 4 3 .919 2.42