Saturday, December 09, 2006


Game: Devils @ Boston

The New Jersey Devils travel to Boston to take on the Bruins at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Local TV: Fox Sports NY
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN Preview

The New Jersey Devils are 5-8-1 on the road this season, so a win tonight would be very good towards rectifying that blight on their record. It would also continue a winning streak, as the Devils won their last 4 games. Last night, the Devils played well despite some discipline issues, defeating the Flyers by a score 2 to 0. Martin Brodeur started his 20th straight game, got his 84th shutout, and his 432nd win; it was a huge night for Marty.

The Boston Bruins (14-10-3) have played well as of later, winning 10 of their last 13 games. Their power play is faltering on a 2003 Devils-esque-ian proportions, scoreless in their last 16 power play opportunities over the last 5 games. But they have been winning with recent defensive play, strong play from goaltender Tim Thomas, and strong penalty killing - allowing only 2 power play goals in the last 22 opportunities they given up. They just beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 on Thursday and won 5 of their last 7 home games. So while if you look at the big picture, see that they have given up an average of 32.4 shots per game this season (27th in the NHL), a penalty killing efficiency of 78.9% (28th in the NHL), and given up an average of 3.35 goals per game (26th in the NHL); you may be tempted to count the Bruins out. Well, read the preview (which is where I got all their recent stats, other stats from again because Boston has been playing better than usual lately.

And as much as I mention defense, the Bruins have a number of offensive weapons the Devils will need to contain tonight. Playmaking superstar Marc Savard (6 G, 25 A) will burn anyone if allowed to create offense. Patrice Bergeron (8 G, 18 A) and Glen Murray (14 G, 8 A) also pack an offensive punch. Brad Boyes has also been getting it done with 6 goals and 13 assists. Not to mention former Norris Trophy candidate, captain Zdeno Chara has a huge shot to go with that huge frame of his (5 G, 12 A, 6'9", 260 lbs., May or May Not Have A Posse). Tonight's game will not be easy for the Devils. It's on the road, it's the second half of their second back-to-back games this month, and they just played rather hard against Philadelphia last night.

It may be a bit harder for NJ for another reason. I personally think Brodeur needs a break and that Claude Julien should start back-up Scott Clemmensen tonight. Colin Stephenson of the Star Ledger, however, asked Julien this question and the answer was unsurprisingly ambiguous. Brodeur's response was a bit more telling.
So, will Devils coach Claude Julien finally give Brodeur the night off tonight when the team plays the second night of a back-to-back in Boston against the Bruins? Julien wouldn't say last night.

"I haven't made my decision yet," he said.

Brodeur claimed Julien hadn't told him anything, but the 34-year-old frankly looked and sounded as though he wouldn't mind a night off.

"We'll see," he said when asked if he expected to play. "(Backup goalie Scott Clemmensen is) ready to go. He's been practicing hard and he knows he's going to get one pretty soon. We'll see if it's (tonight)."

Good to see that Brodeur is confident in the backup, though he hasn't played in well over a month. If Clemmensen is starting, hopefully the Devils will be just as confident. To be on the safe side, the Devils should shore up on defense some more and avoid taking stupid penalties (especially stupid penalties by defensemen. DOUBLY ESPECIALLY stupid penalties by Colin White) to help Clemmensen out. To win tonight's game, NJ must fight through whatever fatigue they have and play as if they just came off a few games rest. They got to show some fight in the beginning, put pressure on Tim Thomas right from the get-go (won't be easy with Zdeno Chara patrolling the blueline), and don't fall asleep after getting the lead. The Bruins aren't pushovers by any means, so it'll likely be a hard-fought win if the Devils do get the W tonight.

OOPS: I forgot to add my projected lines. Here they are:



Clemmensen (I say he DOES start, but I may be wrong)

Tom Lycan at the Devils Due blog has been ON FIRE (not to be confused with Trendon Lynch), just keep scrolling on his most recent post, he's got plenty to read. A new link to a Devils blog by a Hal Stern. Some salary cap discussion. A fantasy hockey link. A slam on ESPN. What more do you want? Exactly, go ahead on and read it.



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