Following last night’s 5-3 win in Carolina and late flight into Boston, the Bruins (4-0-1) held off-ice workouts and meetings in preparation for their first of seven back-to-backs this season, when they face off against the New Jersey Devils (3-0-1) tonight at TD Garden.
Only five players hit the ice - none of whom skated in Monday night’s game - including Tuukka Rask, Lane MacDermid, Jay Pandolfo (still on a Professional Tryout Agreement), P-Bruin Jordan Caron (who is with the B’s for conditioning purposes), and Adam McQuaid, who had not traveled with the team to Carolina. With Khudobin making his first start last night, it can be assumed that Rask will get the call for Boston, while it’s expected Johan Hedberg (and not Martin Brodeuer) will make his first start this season for New Jersey tonight (as reported by Star-Ledger’s Rich Chere).
Head Coach Claude Juilien told media during pre game availability that McQuaid “is available” for tonight. “He’s skating this morning, so we’ll see where he is after morning skate. We’ll make a decision today, before the game.”
McQuaid spent the time away from the rink with his family, following his grandmother’s passing - something his teammates, coaches and the B’s all understood was important (condolences to Adam and his family on her passing - hockey is important, but family always comes first…)
"Pretty close family and it was important for me to get back and pay my respects, to be with my family," said McQuaid. "I’m really happy that I was able to do so, the team, the management, the coaches, my teammates; everyone was really supportive of it, that meant a lot."
"Hockey’s obviously a pretty important part of our life, but family, I think for everyone, comes first. I feel fortunate that I was able to be there."
Read the entire pregame notebook & watch the Bruins Beat by clicking here.
Sound D by B’s
Coming into tonight, the Bruins penalty kill was 23-for-23 at a perfect 100 percent and that trend continued through the first period, with the B’s successfully killing a tripping penalty to Andrew Ference with 4:41 left in the opening frame.
When the Devils put out six skaters on the delayed penalty, Tuukka Rask wowed the crowd with a half-split save on a bomb from the high slot by Ilya Kovalchuk. And then on the PK, he flashed the glove on a Devils’ shot headed right to the top corner as Rask was screened in front.
"A large core of their group were Stanley Cup champions only two years ago," Devils head coach Peter DeBoer said prior to tonight’s game. "So we know what we’re dealing with. It’s a great test for us. A team like this exposes your weaknesses pretty quickly."
Though the first period only saw a combined 18 shots on goal (nine for each side), both netminders have looked solid. Rask had the game off last night with Khudobin between the pipes, while Johan Hedberg is playing in his first game since April 3, 2012. Both have looked sharp.
With just under 2:00 to go in the first, Rask denied Ryan Carter a tip-in from right at the goal-mouth after a hard centering pass from Jacob Josefson at the right wing boards. Great stop by Rask.
Then, Hedberg denied a wrister from the high slot by Brad Marchand, and then the follow up from Patrice Bergeron. Nine different B’s had a shot on goal in the first, and the Black & Gold getting shots from all lines tonight, but New Jersey’s disciplined system isn’t giving them much to work with.
Thornton vs. Barch
After 5:39 of back and forth action to start the first, Shawn Thornton and the Devils’ Krystofer Barch decided that they needed to get their teams - and the crowd - a spark. The pair squared off at center ice in a very long and entertaining bout between two heavyweights that lasted one minutes and 17 seconds, with the most memorable punch a strong left that came from No. 22 (Barch is a lefty, but Thornton is ambidextrous when it comes to fighting - he’s as strong on his left as he is on his right). Thornton and Barch have fought twice before, when the Devil was with the Florida Panthers.
For the record, Boston is 45-16-9 when Thornton receives a fighting major…
A slower period of action in the second, as the teams are playing tight and special teams has played a role, with the B’s called for three penalties and the Devils for two. While the Bruins could not convert on their man-advantage opportunities, New Jersey cashed in after Johnny Boychuk went off for tripping at the 7:22 mark, ending the Bruins 100-percent streak at 24-for-24.
David Clarkson, who leads all skaters with four shots, has had a few close calls on Rask, in addition to redirecting Marek Zidlicky’s long shot from the point right at the goal-mouth to give New Jersey the 1-0 lead.
Getting Shots Through
The Devils have been good with their body positioning and active sticks, something the B’s knew they would face coming in, with Coach and players talking about the “heavy play” and “heavy sticks” of New Jersey.
Both teams only put a combined 12 shots on goal in the second period - New Jersey 7 and Boston 5. The Devils have blocked 12 of Boston’s shots and Milan Lucic has seen four of his attempts blocked - though No. 17 had one of the better chances for the B’s.
A great sequence for Boston came at the end of the period, when Lucic near redirected a shot in front of Hedberg. With all of the back-and-forth action, the B’s immediately found themselves on the back-pedal and Aaron Johnson’s active stick was able to cancel a New Jersey rush. But a bad bounce then turned lucky when the puck just missed slipping inside the post on Rask’s stick side.