Bruins-Devils preview: Revenge is on New Jersey's mind

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Bruins-Devils preview: Revenge is on New Jersey's mind

BOSTON -- The Bruins should be prepared for New Jerseys best punch tonight.
The B's, after all, delivered their best punch in Carolina last night as they sought revenge for the Hurricanes' four-game sweep of Boston in the regular season last year. Well, tonight the roles are reversed: The Bruins squashed the Devils in their four regular-season meetings last year, winning the four games by a combined score of 18-8, so New Jersey has the same motivation as Boston did 24 hours earlier.
And if all that wasn't enough, the Bruins are playing the second of back-to-back games.
This is our first back-to-back and we might as well get used to it because theres a lot more coming up," said coach Claude Julien. "This is part of the schedule this year, its going to keep happening a fair amount and we just have to adapt and make sure were good at it.
The Bruins were 9-4 in the second game of back-to-backs and outscored the opposition by close to 30 goals.
PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: Johan Hedberg, who'll be in goal for the Devils tonight, is a perfectly serviceable backup goaltender, but the 39-year-old hasnt played in a meaningful game since an April 17 relief spot against the Florida Panthers in the playoffs. The big Swede didnt play in Europe during the lockout and watched as Martin Brodeur played extremely well during the four week-plus of the regular season for the Devils. So theres a pretty good chance the backup goalie could have some troubles if the New Jersey defense has any issues in front of him.
DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: Were really giving up very few opportunities to the other team, and both goalies are playing really well behind us on the back side. Were playing very compact right and jumping in at the right time. Thats what good teams need to do. Brad Marchand on why the Bruins are off to their best start (4-0-1) in 12 years.
KEY MATCHUP: It will be all about New Jersey defenseman like Bryce Salvador and Anton Volchenkov slowing down a Bruins attack thats averaging over three goals per game, and ranks ninth in the NHL in team offense. Dougie Hamilton (4 assists), David Krejci (1 goal, 3 assists), Nathan Horton (2 goals, 2 assists) and Zdeno Chara (2 goals, 3 assists) are all riding three-game point streaks for the Bruins, and will be looking to apply the offensive pressure to the Jersey Shore crew.
STAT TO WATCH: 18-8 The number of goals that the Bruins outscored the Devils by last season in four regular-season matchups. .
INJURIES: Marc Savard (concussion) is out for the season with post-concussion syndrome symptoms that have not abated over the last two years. New Jersey forward Adam Henrique could return from left thumb surgery by the end of this week, but will miss the game against the Bruins.
GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Tuukka Rask will be making his fifth appearance of the season and has been everything the Bruins have wanted him to be thus far. For the season Rask is 3-0-1 with a 1.96 goals against average and a .925 save percentage, and the Bruins will take those kinds of numbers stretched out over the long haul of a 48-game shortened season. Johan Hedberg will be making his season debut.

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

BOSTON – The Bruins didn’t show anything on the ice in Monday afternoon’s 4-0 matinee loss, and that’s not really any kind of an overstatement.

The scoring chances were almost nonexistent despite 32 shots on net, the second period was dreadful as the Bruins gave up three goals over the course of a six minute span and there was zero added urgency in the third period once the B’s fell behind. The emotion was missing from the drop of the puck to open the game and it never showed up once the Islanders began taking control of the game.

It was a bitterly disappointing result after the Black and Gold had played so well in their previous five games, and put in strong, winning efforts against the Panthers, Blues and Flyers.

On Monday afternoon, the passes were sloppy and errant all over the ice, there was zero physicality and the Bruins buckled once the Isles turned the intensity up just a little bit in the second period. The game was basically over once Nikolay Kulemin snapped one home wide open from the slot area with Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid and David Krejci all blowing their defensive assignments, and then Tuukka Rask followed it up by allowing a softie to Josh Bailey from a bad angle close to net.  

So Bruins head coach Claude Julien termed it a “flat” performance once it was all over with, and openly wondered whether it was fatigue-related result linked to the compacted schedule Boston has played through this season. Monday marked the seventh straight day that the Bruins held some kind of formal skate, though most of the veteran B's players stayed off the ice during last week's Wednesday off-day practice in Nashville.   

“We were flat tonight, obviously, flat from the get-go. I think that first half of the game, we didn’t give much until they scored that first goal. We were able to stay in, but we certainly weren’t generating much ourselves, from that point of view,” said Claude Julien. “His is really the first year, for me as well, going through a condensed schedule, and I’m certainly not using that as an excuse, is it fatigue?. . . But we were flat tonight. How do you explain it? I don’t know. I know that it’s frustrating. I know that it’s disappointing. That’s all I can say.

“Whether it’s mental fatigue, whatever it is. We made some mistakes tonight like, from the goals you look at, we weren’t even in the position that we’re normally in. So we were totally out of whack, as far as even defending. When you give that first goal that much room in the middle of the ice, your D’s go on the wrong side, your weak-side forward is way on the other side, and you open up the slot area, that’s something I haven’t seen much of this year. I think it said a lot from our game tonight.”

The compacted schedule certainly could be a factor for a Bruins team that’s played more games than anybody else in the Eastern Conference to this point, but the B’s also had 48 hours to recharge after winning a Saturday matinee over the Flyers. So the fatigue excuse seems a little far-fetched for a hockey club that’s no-showed a few too many times this season, and did it again on Monday afternoon against one of the worst teams in the NHL. 

Off day for Tuukka Rask plays into rough loss for the Bruins

Off day for Tuukka Rask plays into rough loss for the Bruins

BOSTON – Many times this season Tuukka Rask has bailed out the Bruins when the team was at less than their best.

Monday afternoon was not one of those times as the Bruins goaltender was knocked out of the game after two periods on the way to a listless 4-0 shutout loss to the New York Islanders. Rask allowed three goals on 15 shots in the game’s opening 40 minutes, and was responsible for a very soft goal during the Isles’ three-score barrage in the second period.

After the game Rask wasn’t ducking responsibility for the subpar performance, and admitted he was simply beaten to the short side post on a bad angle shot from Islanders forward Josh Bailey for the soft-serve special.

“I was just late. I picked the wrong seal. It’s one of those [goals] that I should have stopped,” said Rask. “Claude [Julien] mentioned [not taking the Isles lightly] before the game, and the last game we played here they got us. It was a bit of a flat game again last time, and we just woke up too late today. We didn’t want to underestimate them. Any team in this league is good even though the standings might show otherwise. We just never got it going.”

Rask was being kind because the Bruins never actually woke up at all in the first B's shutout loss to the Islanders on home ice in franchise history, and that includes when the Finnish netminder was yanked after the second intermission.

Julien’s act of pulling Rask from a 3-0 game was clearly designed to spark the struggling hockey club, but it did nothing to breathe life into a dead hockey club that simply allowed another goal playing out the string in the third period.

“There are two things that can happen. No. 1, you hope you can spark your team because of the performance in front of him,” said Julien. “If it doesn’t spark your team, [at least] you’re not wasting your number one goaltender’s energy.”

One would expect that Rask will be back between the pipes on Wednesday night against the Red Wings in Detroit, and in hindsight perhaps this Monday matinee might have been a good time to see what Zane McIntyre has to offer as the backup. Instead it will go down as an “off” game for Rask and another inexcusable no-show on home ice for the Black and Gold.