New Jersey Devils Start Second Half Against Bruins

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

After dropping their second consecutive game up in Montreal, the New Jersey Devils finished the first half of the season at 20-16-5 with 45 points and sole possession of the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

On Friday evening, the Devils will look to start the second half of the season on the right foot as they welcome Frank Vatrano and the Boston Bruins (20-16-4) to the Prudential Center for the second of three meetings between both clubs.

The first time the Devils and Bruins met this year was on December 20th at TD Garden where the B’s downed the Devils 2-1 in a shootout despite 38 saves and a brilliant performance from Devils net-minder Cory Schneider.

For the Bruins, Friday will mark the first of a five-game road trip. Back on the blue line they will be without defenseman Adam McQuaid, who was placed on the IR following their last game against the Capitals.

In his place the Bruins have recalled the skilled 19-year old forward David Pastrnak from the Providence Bruins. Fresh off his performance in the 2016 IIHF World Juniors with the Czech Republic in which he recording four points in as many games, Pastrnak will join a hungry Bruins team looking for their first win of 2016. 

More from Pucks and Pitchforks

Fortunately for the Devils, the Bruins will be without playmaker David Krejci because of an upper-body injury and they’ll also be without the pest Brad Marchand, who is serving the final game of his three game suspension for clipping Mark Borowiecki of the Ottawa Senators.

For the Devils, they will be looking to snap a two-game losing skid, but they are currently dealing with a plethora of injuries as well. Both Tyler Kennedy (upper body) and John Moore (lower body) will be game-time decisions and it appears as if leading scorer Mike Cammalleri‘s injury is worse than originally expected as the Devils placed him on the IR Thursday afternoon.

In addition to Cammalleri, the Devils have placed left wing veteran Tuomo Ruutu on the IR with the a lower body injury and have returned Mike Sislo back to the AHL. Both both Patrik Elias and Jacob Josefson will remain out of action as well.

In lieu of all their injuries, the Devils have called up defenseman Marc-André Gragnani, center Jim O’Brien and right winger Paul Thompson from Albany.

In 22 games played in Albany, Thompson has recorded 16 points (7 G, 9 A). Friday will mark his NHL debut.

In 17 games played for the A-Devils, Jim O’Brien has recorded 12 points (7 G, 5 A). O’Brien has made a few NHL stints with the Ottawa Senators in the past, playing in a total of 63 games while recording 12 points. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles center ice against the big bad Bruins.

Marc-André Gragnani has been quite the surprise this year in Albany. In 24 games played, the 28-year old is leading all Albany defenseman with 15 points (0 G, 15 A). However his -7 rating is the worst on the entire team. If he proves to be a liability early tonight he’ll probably find himself spending a lot of time on the Devils bench.

If the Devils are to beat the Boston Bruins they’ll need to snap out of their scoring drought, as they have scored just one goal their last 120 minutes of hockey.

With both teams at 4-5-1 in their last 10 games coming into Friday, they are both urgently looking for a victory, especially with teams like the Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins sneaking into Wild Card territory.

Projected lines as of Friday’s morning skate:

For the visiting Boston Bruins;

Eriksson — Bergeron — Pastrnak

Beleskey — Spooner — Connolly

Vatrano — Kemppainen — Hayes

Rinaldo — Talbot — Randell

Chara — Trot man

Krug — Miller

Seidenber — Miller

Tuukka Rask

For the New Jersey Devils;

Tlusty — Zajac — Palmieri

Kalinin — Henrique — Stempniak

Matteau — O’Brien — Thompson

Farnham — Gionta — Tootoo

Greene — Severson

Gragnani — Larsson

Gelinas — Merrill

Starting in net: Cory Schneider

More from Pucks and Pitchforks