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.

Vatrano takes 'step in the right direction' in return to practice

Vatrano takes 'step in the right direction' in return to practice

BRIGHTON, Mass -- The Bruins lost Matt Beleskey for six weeks to a knee injury this week, and now they’re hoping to get another winger back now that 22-year-old Frank Vatrano has rejoined the Bruins at practice.

Vatrano was wearing a red no-contact jersey at Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, but his presence along with the other players at the team skate means that he’s moving closer toward a return to the B’s lineup. While initial timetables for his recovery from foot surgery had him in the early January range for returning to the Bruins lineup, it appears that he might be at least a couple of weeks ahead of that initial expectation.

Either way Vatrano is happy to be back on the ice with his teammates after the torn ligaments in his foot wiped out his training camp and the first two plus months of the regular season for him.

“It was a big step for me today. It was nice to be out there with the guys for the first time,” said Vatrano, who scored a combined 44 goals last season for Providence and Boston in a breakout season with the B’s organization. “I’ve gone through the rehab and done everything I need to do to get back playing, so now the next step is getting back on the ice with the guys. I felt great, so now it’s just waiting to hear the news when I start playing again.”

While Vatrano is still a young, relatively inexperienced player with just one full year of pro hockey under his belt, the sense from the Bruins is that he’s going to help a team that’s currently ranked 25th in the NHL in offense. Claude Julien was encouraged by seeing him out there in the red, no-contact jersey that his teammates were chirping him about, and said that his level play at last spring’s world championships should give him confidence when he jumps back into a big role with the Black and Gold.

“It’s a step in the right direction for Frank. That’s the best way for him to get to the pace of our game because it’s going to take a while when you’ve been out that long,” said Vatrano. “I think his experience at world championships last year is a real blessing in disguise because he gained a lot of confidence there. I think that’s going to help him a lot more than had he not gone.

“He played against a lot of elite players last year, and he fared really well. I think he’ll be coming in now with some confidence, and we just have to sure coming in that we give him every opportunity to succeed by using him properly, and giving him a chance to find his game.”

That certainly sounds like the Bruins are preparing for a top-6 role and maybe some power play time once the young, sharp-shooting Vatrano is back up to full speed. That should be fun to watch once he’s ready to play, and ready to again unleash that shot and release that rivals anybody else for tops on the Bruins roster. 

Spooner on trade rumors: 'I definitely want to play here'

Spooner on trade rumors: 'I definitely want to play here'

BOSTON -- Ryan Spooner has definitely heard the reports out there that he’s being shopped in trade by the Boston Bruins, and he played like a guy that didn’t want to be moved in Monday’s win over the Florida Panthers at TD Garden.

Spooner had his good skating legs, created chances for his teammates and set up the third period goal that got the B’s into overtime when he flipped a shot at the net that was tipped in by David Backes while camped out around the crease. Spooner finished with an assist and a plus-1 rating along with five shot attempts in his 14:24 of ice time, and looked much more like the energized, creative player that was at the heart of some pretty good offensive things last season.

In other words, Spooner looked much more like the talented young player that finished with 13 goals and 49 points last season while centering the third line.

“I think there were five or six games there where I felt I wasn’t playing a bad game. Then six or seven games there where it was hard to get, I guess, the ice time that I wanted,” said Spooner. “At the end of the day, I’ve been a little bit inconsistent.

“I just have to go out there and use my speed and my skill and I found that in the game here. I thought that I did that and I just need to play with that, and I should be fine.”

Multiple sources have indicated to CSN New England that the Bruins are talking about a possible Ryan Spooner deal with multiple teams including the Carolina Hurricanes, San Jose Sharks and New York Islanders. Part of it is certainly the need for the Bruins to collect a bit more goal-scoring as Monday night’s win was just the eighth time in 26 games this season that Boston’s offense has scored more than two goals.

Part of it is also, however, a challenging season for Spooner where he’s been in and out of Claude Julien’s dog house while getting dropped to the fourth line at times, and even being left off the power play a handful of times as well. He’s played out of position at left wing rather than center and has underachieved to three goals and nine points in 25 games largely played with David Krejci and David Backes.

Whatever the history and the number of potential trade scenarios, Spooner said was “fed up” with all of it in his own words as he headed into Monday night’s game, and one thing remained true above all else: He wants to stick around as a member of the Bruins.

“I try to just put it in the back of my mind. When I was 17, I went through the same thing [in junior hockey]. I definitely want to play here,” said Spooner. “I want to help out and that’s kind of where I’m at now. If I play like I did [against the Panthers], I think I’ll be fine. I just want to go out, I want to help out, and that’s kind of where I’m at right now.”

The Black and Gold are looking for a top-6 forward capable of putting the puck in the net on the trade market in any possible deal involving Spooner, but it would seem that the 23-year can control his own destiny in Boston if he starts generating offense and putting the puck in the net. Spooner did just that on Monday night while setting up a third period goal, and lo and behold the Bruins offense posted four goals after struggling to get more than two for most of the season.

That could turn into the kind of trend that keeps Spooner in Boston if he knocks out the inconsistency in his game, and instead steps on the gas pedal and brings the speed and skill that got him to the NHL in the first place.