Surging Bruins face off with dismal Devils
The Boston Bruins made a resounding statement Thursday night by beating the NHL-leading Tampa Bay Lightning. On Saturday night, the Bruins will look to carry over that intensity into a game against a team on the other end of the spectrum.
The Bruins will put a 15-game point streak on the line when they play host to the New Jersey Devils.
Boston, heading into the third of six straight home games, was off Friday after beating the Lightning 4-1. The last-place Devils will be completing a back-to-back set after falling to the visiting Philadelphia Flyers 6-3 on Friday night.
The win by the Bruins, who are 11-0-4 since Jan. 29 and 9-0-1 since Feb. 9, didn't make much of an impact in the Atlantic Division standings, where the Lightning still enjoy a 17-point lead on the second-place Bruins.
However, the lopsided result did serve as another reminder the Bruins might be the biggest threat to Lightning in the Eastern Conference. Tampa Bay won the final four games of a five-game conference semifinal series against Boston last spring, then earned a 3-2 win on Dec. 6 in the first game between the squads this season.
"We're playing for a little more than they are right now, I think, as well, in terms of the standings," coach Bruce Cassidy said of the Bruins, who are three points ahead of the third-place Toronto Maple Leafs. "So some of that factored into our urgency. But I do believe we wanted to put our best foot forward.
"It's the team that knocked us out last year, so I wouldn't say (it sent) a message, but we do want to let them know that we're a good hockey club as well, and we've changed a little since the last time we've seen them."
The Devils are undergoing changes, too, but none that any team wants to experience at this time of year. New Jersey traded four players in February, including left winger Marcus Johansson, who was sent to the Bruins on Monday in exchange for a pair of draft picks.
Johansson has one assists in two games for Boston, both victories.
"Those were two great teams we played, and I think we played two unbelievable games," Johansson told the Patriot Ledger of Quincy, Mass. "If we can keep building off that, it's going to be a really good thing."
The changes kept coming Thursday for the Devils, who announced that reigning Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall underwent left knee surgery. Hall has not played since Dec. 23 due to the injury.
Head coach John Hynes didn't declare Hall out for the season, but with the Devils buried in the Metropolitan Division cellar and 17 points out of a playoff spot, it's likely he won't be rushed back.
"I think just for the player, he knows what it is and can move forward," Hynes said prior to the game against the Flyers. "I think for all of us, but particularly him, there's closure to what it was, and now it's time to move forward."
--Field Level Media
Updated March 2, 2019