Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bruins Return To Garden To Battle Devils

Hi Boston, remember hockey?

It’s been five days since the Boston Bruins have played a game, a thrilling win against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night in Canada’s capital where the B’s scored two goals with under a minute and a half left in the third to tie it and eventually win in the shootout.

Tonight, the B’s will play host the New Jersey Devils, a team that has given the Bruins trouble and close match-up’s for years. Under Claude Julien, the Bruins are 3-2-3 against the Devils and no final score between the two clubs has had a goal differential over three, which has happened only once.

Ten games into the season, the Devils, back with Jacques Lemaire behind the bench, are off to a 6-4-0 start, but their road record has been more than impressive, it’s been perfect. The Devils are undefeated on the road with a 5-0 record.

As always, a main cog in the success of New Jersey has been Martin Brodeur, who missed much of last season with a torn bicep injury. However, luckily for Boston, Marty will be watching tonight’s game from the bench as Yann Danis will make his Devils debut tonight in Boston.

With the departure of Scott Clemmensen to Florida through free agency and retirement of Kevin Weekes, the Devils were without a solid back-up and addressed this issue with the signing of Yann Danis to a one year contract worth league minimum.

For Danis, this is his third NHL franchise in as many years, spending last season with the New York Islanders, where he put together a respectable season on a dreadful team with a 10-17-3 record, .910 save percentage, and 2.86 goals against average.

Despite his decent numbers, the same cannot be said when Danis stepped in between the pipes against the Boston Bruins.

In three games last season against the Killer B’s, Danis went 0-3-0 with a .881 save percentage, including a start against the Bruins in the Isles season finale where he was lit up for four goals in 25 minutes.

For Boston, the focus will be on looking to continuing the momentum they gained last week as the team gained five out of a possible six points while without top-liners Marc Savard and Milan Lucic.

The Bruins will still be without Lucic (finger) and Savard (foot) for tonight’s game, but call-up’s Brad Marchand and Vladimir Sobotka have played considerably well and aren’t causing headaches for fans in the Hub of Hockey when on the ice just yet.

Last week, the success for Boston came in the final five minutes against the Sens, a task they surely don’t want to have to repeat tonight with Danis in net. The keys to the game will be to put the pressure on the Devils early and get Danis rattled. However, given the Lemaire trap-style of play, inducing lullabies everywhere since 1993, the B’s may have very limited chances to do so in tonight’s game, creating the mantra of capitalizing on their chances.

Players To Watch

For Boston, the pressure-cooker has got to be building on Matt Hunwick. Hunwick, who missed nearly all of the Bruins playoff-push last year following a ruptured spleen injury, has struggled out of the gate on a defensive standpoint so far in 2009-10. While the 24-year old has three goals in ten games thus far, he’s been a total liability when it comes to defending the Bruins zone responsibly. If this continues, B’s fans will be clamoring for the return of Johnny Boychuk from the press box in place of Hunwick sooner, rather than later.

Tim Thomas, coming off a huge 27-save performance in Ottawa on Saturday will be in net tonight for Boston and will look to improve to 5-3-0 on the short season. The 2009 Vezina Trophy winner has experienced relatively good success against New Jersey, boasting a 4-3-3 record and .920 save percentage, including a shutout of last year’s Devils.

In red and white tonight, while Patrik Elias is tops among Devils forwards when it comes to career points against Boston, Elias will be inactive tonight still recovering from off-season groin surgery, putting the focus on Devils captain and notorious Bruins killer, Jamie Langenbrunner. In 10 games this season, Langenbrunner is already off to a fast start with seven points and a +4. Always the dangerous playmaker due to his size and effective skating, Langenbrunner has already tallied 23 points in 34 career games against Boston and could have more if not contained by the Bruins.

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