Two streaky teams will meet for a Friday matinee at high noon at the Garden, as the Bruins (12-8-4) will play host to all-world goalie Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils (15-6-1).
Boston returns home after a very successful four-game road trip that saw the B’s put together their first extended winning streak of the year. On Wednesday, Boston closed the roadie with a 2-1 shootout win over old friend Chuck Kobasew’s Minnesota Wild.
The Devils, who at one time not too long ago were riding a league-high eight-game win streak of their own, hit the skids last week, losing three straight before righting the ship and taking down the Senators 3-1 on Wednesday night. New Jersey took the first meeting between these two squads, 2-1 back on Oct. 29 here in Boston.
Here now, we throw some more game notes at you, getting you prepped for Friday’s opening faceoff…
- If the playoffs ended today (even though we all know they don’t), New Jersey and Boston would meet in the first round of the playoffs. The Devils currently sit 4th in the conference, while Boston is 3 points behind New Jersey, occupying the 5th slot.
- The Devils actually helped Boston briefly sniff the top spot in the Northeast Division this week. After the win over Minnesota Wednesday, coupled with New Jersey’s victory over Ottawa, Boston leap-frogged the Sens in the standings. However, the time atop the division was short-lived for the Black & Gold, as Ottawa topped Columbus Thursday night to regain the division lead.
- Getting an early lead will be key for the Bruins. New Jersey has been able to close the door recently in the third period, allowing just 2 goals in their last 13 third periods. Scoring should be at a premium throughout today’s game, as New Jersey boasts the second-lowest goals against average (2.18GAA) league-wide, while Boston is right behind them in third place, at 2.33GAA.
- The Devils feature a very well-balanced offense with several forwards on hot streaks. Zach Parise, the team’s points leader (13G, 15A) has points in 8 straight games. Travis Zajac (7G, 14A) has 8 points in his last 6 games, captain Jamie Langenbrunner (5G, 15A) has 11 points in the last 8 games, and veteran Patrick Elias has 6 points in his last 4 games.
- In net of course, is future Hall-of-Famer Martin Brodeur. Brodeur (13-6-1, 2.16GAA) is just one shutout away from tying Terry Sawchuk’s leading mark of 103 career shutouts. Brodeur is backed up by Yann Denis (2-0-0, 2.14GAA).
- On the injury front, New Jersey will be without Paul Martin, local boy Jay Pandolfo, forward Dainius Zubrus, and veteran Rob Niedermayer for the game. Martin and Pandolfo should be back next week, and Niedermayer returned to practice for the team Wednesday, which should put him back in action this weekend. Zubrus, who underwent knee surgery last week, is still 3-5 weeks away from returning.
- For Boston, Tim Thomas remains a question mark with a hand injury, while Milan Lucic’s status also remains up in the air after an awkward fall in Wednesday night’s third period sent Lucic to the dressing room early for the night with a knee injury. Lucic was in just his fourth game back after missing significant time with a broken finger.
Tags: Boston Bruins, Ice Breakers, Jamie Langenbrunner, Jay Pandolfo, Martin Brodeur, Milan Lucic, New Jersey Devils, Rob Niedermayer, Tim Thomas, Travis Zajac, Zach Parise