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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Devils, Tuesday March 22nd

Hoping that a little home cooking will help the team get back to some winning ways, the Bruins (39-22-10) kick off a three-game homestand tonight on Causeway Street when they host the resurgent New Jersey Devils (34-34-4) at TD Garden.

The Bruins are reeling after an embarrassing 5-2 loss Saturday night up in Toronto. Winners of just one of their last seven contests (1-3-3), Boston’s Northeast Division lead has been cut to a single point over Montreal entering tonight’s action. While the B’s do have two games in hand over the Habs, if Montreal can beat the Sabres tonight and Boston doesn’t get the job done at home against New Jersey, Boston will relinquish the division lead and face an uphill climb from here on in.

As for the Devils, they have made a miraculous turnaround as of late, after starting the season a dreadful 10-29-2. Since then, they’ve ripped off an impressive 24-5-2 mark, bringing them back to the .500 level and relevant again in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Sitting in 11th place right now in the East, New Jersey finds themselves with seven points to make up in order to catch eighth place Buffalo. The Devils have made the playoffs for 13 straight seasons, so while they have a ton of work to do to keep that streak alive, their outlook is a lot rosier than it was a few months ago.

It’s been a while since these two squads faced each other, so let’s get you reacquainted with tonight’s opponent with tonight’s pre-game notes…

  • Tonight marks the third of four meetings this season between New Jersey and Boston. The Bruins won the previous two games back in October and November by a combined score of 7-1.
  • The B’s have won three straight over the Devils, dating back to last season. Boston hasn’t won four straight against New Jersey since a stretch back in 1996.
  • The Devils snapped a two-game skid Sunday with a 3-0 shutout of the Columbus Blue Jackets, kicking off their four-game road trip. For goalie Martin Brodeur, it was his league-leading 115th career shutout, and he only had to face a measly 13 shots to earn it.
  • New Jersey is 8-2-0 in their last 10 road games.
  • For Boston, three’s are wild so far here in this third month of the year. The B’s are 3-3-3 in March.
  • The B’s will welcome back Brad Marchand tonight, after serving his two-game suspension last week for the elbow he threw to the head of Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger. Also, defenseman Shane Hnidy is available to the team after being activated from long-term injured reserve. With a fully healthy lineup (other than Marc Savard, of course), the team will have as many as three healthy scratches this evening. My bet: Hnidy, Steven Kampfer, and Daniel Paille.
  • New Jersey scores the least amount of goals per game in the league, at 2.10. In contrast, the B’s are fifth in the NHL at 2.97. The Devils are led in scoring by forwards Patrik Elias (16G, 37A), Ilya Kovalchuk (26G, 25A), and Travis Zajac (13G, 28A).
  • Goaltending for New Jersey is of course handled by future Hall of Famer, Martin Brodeur (21-22-2, 2.45GAA). Brodeur, now in his 18th season, is in danger of having more regulation losses than wins for the first time in his long career. The veteran is backed up by Johan Hedberg (13-11-2, 2.34GAA).

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