The Devils’ tough week continues; can they keep bringing the heat?
The New Jersey Devils are on fire right now. They’re on a three-game winning streak and all three of their wins came against some of the better teams in the league.
What makes their recent play even more impressive is the fact that they score, defend well, and win regardless of who’s in their lineup.
They don’t have their star defenseman Dougie Hamilton for two games? They manage in all situations without him. Star center Jack Hughes is out for a few weeks? They’re still going to score and drive play well.
Miles Wood, one of the team’s best and most important forwards last season, still hasn’t made his season-debut because of an injury that led to surgery? The team’s depth makes up for his absence.
So far this week, the Devils have beaten the Florida Panthers who are the best team in the NHL and the New York Islanders, who are one of the best defensive teams in the league and are a few months removed from an appearance in the Eastern Conference Final.
The Devils have been playing some dominant hockey, but things won’t be getting much easier for them. They take on the dangerous Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon at the Prudential Center.
The Bruins are in a similar spot to the Islanders. They’ve underperformed so far this season, arguably even more so than New York, but are obviously still a threat and don’t make for easy opponents.
The Devils’ offense has improved to hovering around league average and (shockingly) Boston’s is one of the worst in the NHL.
Last season, the Bruins had one of the best offenses in the NHL, with the “Perfection Line” doing it better than any other line in the league.
Even though this is the case, the Bruins still have an above-average power play, something the Devils must be careful of. New Jersey no longer has the worst penalty kill in hockey, but it still isn’t goodm so they must avoid getting sent to the box.
The defensive situation of these two teams is interesting and will be the story of this game. Last season, the Devils were one of the worst defensive teams in hockey.
The Bruins were one of the best. This season, they’ve performed almost the same in their own zones: both are top-10 defensive teams.
While few would be inclined to pick the Devils in this matchup, the odds could be in their favor. They have a worse penalty kill and power play, but that’s it. At even strength, their defense is on par with Boston’s and their offense is significantly better.
Bruins players to watch:
LW Brad Marchand
This season: 11 GP, 6 G (1 PP), 16 PTS
Career vs. NJD: 39 GP, 11 G (5 PP), 31 PTS
C Patrice Bergeron
This season: 11 GP, 5 G (3 PP), 11 PTS
Career vs. NJD: 55 GP, 22 G (5 PP), 46 PTS
RW David Pastrňák
This season: 11 GP, 4 G (1 PP), 10 PTS
LW Taylor Hall
Career vs. NJD: 15 GP, 4 G, 13 PTS
LW Erik Haula
Career vs. NJD: 9 GP, 4 G (2 PP), 7 PTS
Devils players to watch:
LW Andreas Johnsson
This season: 12 GP, 6 G (1 PP), 10 PTS
RHD Dougie Hamilton
This season: 9 GP, 3 G, 8 PTS