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.

Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

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Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

BROOKLYN -- It took most of his first season in Boston, but Riley Nash is hitting his groove with the Bruins at exactly the right time.

Nash came up huge in a must-win game Saturday night against the Islanders, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over the Isle. The unheralded Nash and equally unheralded backup goalie Anton Khudobin were the two most important performers in the tight, playoff-style win that snapped a four game losing streak while pushing the B's back into playoff position.

"That's part of [a big win], right? Big performances,” said interim coach Bruce Cassidy. "Generally you look to your best players, but [Nash] did a really good job. He's got a sneaky shot, so hopefully he uses it a little bit more. You can't say enough about those goals. We needed them tonight.

"Generally our top guns have been good offensively and have come through. But tonight it was the lesser lights for us in terms of offense, so good for us.”

Both Nash goals were titanic. The first came on the first shift following the Islanders goal in the first period. The fourth-line winger stripped Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield in the neutral zone and then flipped a shot past Thomas Greiss to the short side that tied the game at 1-1. Then in the third period, Dominic Moore hit Nash in stride as he sped into the offensive zone, and Nash weaved through defenders before sneaking one past Greiss for the game-winner.

The two goals give Nash four goals and six points in 21 games since the All-Star break, in line with his normal offensive output during his NHL career, and a step up from the three goals and nine points in his first 52 games this season.

The affable Nash was more than happy to contribute in a big win, and enthused at seeing the offense finally starting to flow on a semi-regular basis when the Bruins can really use it.

"It's quite the output as opposed to the season I've had so far, so I'll take it and be happy that we won the game,” said Nash. "I think everyone in here knew that was the biggest game of the year. It was going to be a really big uphill battle if we lost that one.

"Both teams came out desperate in a pretty tight, playoff-style game, but that's what it's going to be like for the rest of the season. So we've got to hunker down and take it one game at a time as the saying goes.”

With the Bruins third line fading a bit in these tight, physical games where players have to battle for their ice, it's been vital that Boston's fourth line step up and provide big minutes at both ends of the ice. Nash and Co. did more than that on Saturday night by potentially saving the season with his biggest, best game in a Bruins uniform.

 

Morning Skate: Old friend Warsofsky called up by Penguins

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Morning Skate: Old friend Warsofsky called up by Penguins

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while waiting for the next wave of announcements that the Bruins have signed college players out of the NCAA tournament.
 
-- Former Wild goaltender Josh Harding is finding his way after his MS diagnosis forced him out of the NHL prematurely.

-- Young D-man Seth Jones is becoming the “hoss” defenseman that the Blue Jackets will need come playoff time.

-- PHT writer Cam Tucker has Wild coach Bruce Boudreau calling a loss to the Canucks “embarrassing” as the hard times continue for Minnesota.  

-- Backup goalie Curtis McElhinney is ready to step up for the Leafs after they lost Frederik Andersen to injury.
 
-- Old friend David Warsofsky has been recalled from the AHL and will be with the Penguins as crunch time hits ahead of the playoffs.

-- USA Hockey is now reportedly reaching out to rec league and former Division III women’s hockey players to find a replacement roster for the world championships as the USA women continues their boycott.
 
-- For something completely different: We have an honest-to-goodness think piece about pulling the “Irish Exit.” Well, okay then.