Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Game 34 Preview: Bruins @ New Jersey WHO REALLY WANTS TO BE JERSEY'S TEAM, ANYWAYS?

Nov 23, 2008 7:00 PM ET


Radio: WBZ

@ New Jersey Devils (19-9-3)


  • This is the first time the Bruins are playing a team in the top half of the league (based on points percentage) since the loss in Washington.
  • The Bruins will be making their 3rd attempt at winning 6 in a row.
  • I'm not feeling terribly optimistic about this game.  Thomas is going to have to be on top of his game in order for the Bs to win.
  • The Bruins and Devils both have a favorable goal differential, and bothare  tearing it up while battling through injuries.  
  • The Devils are 7-2-1 in the last 10, 3-1-1 in the last 5, and on a 3-game winning streak
  • Blake Wheeler is a team player.  Oh, and he may have scored goal of the year.
  • The Atlantic division has not been nice to the Bruins in the few games they've played: SO losses to NYR and PIT, but a 7-2 drubbing of the hapless Islanders leaves them with a 1-0-2 against the Atlantic.
  • Don Koharski is reffing.
  • Bergeron, Ference, Nokelainen, Sturm, Ward all on the IR.
  • Thomas in net.  Bergeron is still getting headaches.
  • Manny now has a better GAA (1.94) than Thomas (2.01).  Thomas's Save Percentage (.936) is still better than Manny (.932).  They're playing for their chances to shine in a contract year.  
  • Kessel hasn't missed a game since he recovered from Cancer, Joe Haggarty learns.
  • Before he coached the Bruins, Coach Claude was fired with 3 games to go in the 06-07 season for coaching the Devils well.

5 Questions with the enemy:

Today's victim is none other than Greg Wyshynski, the editor of Puck Daddy.  If you're only reading two hockey blogs, this is both of them.  He covers the whole NHL, but at heart is a Devils fan.  I'm very thankful that he took the time out of his day to answer these questions.  Let's read:

1) Who has impressed you so far?

We’ve been waiting years for Patrik Elias to do what he’s doing this season. The 37 points in 31 games are awfully nice on the stat sheet, but it’s the way he’s been an offensive player who takes over the game on certain shifts that’s been noteworthy. Dude went from overpaid hack to elite status faster than you can say “Jon Favreau, director of ‘Iron Man.’”

For Scott Clemmensen to be 11-3-1 at this point is stunning on several levels. The fact that he’s gotten 15 starts to Kevin Weekes’s six. The fact that he’s been the best player on the ice on more than one occasion. The fact that the Devils haven’t had to make some desperation pitch for another goalie after Marty Brodeur went down. I’m still not sold on him playing through March, but so far, so good.

The defense in front of him still is the weakest group since before the first Cup in 1995, but they have their moments. Bryce Salvador has been quite good. Johnny Oduya’s given them some good puck-handling. Colin White has stayed healthy, which is essential for a group that’s not exactly gargantuan and/or physical.

Finally, the fact that this team can roll four lines again has impressed me. I wasn’t really all that pleased with Bobby Holik coming back, what with the Rangers taint and all, but he’s given them depth at center in a big way.

2) Which controversy this year is best:  Too many black third jerseys, all-star game cheating, or the neverending saga of Mats Sundin?

The All-Star Game voting has been the most interesting, if only because the NHL has made it that way. The real-time voting begs for coverage and analysis, but it also exposed the voter fraud from the Canadiens fans. I’m still amazed at how little some fan bases (like the Flyers and Rangers) seem to care about the ASG. But not as amazed as I’ve been to see the NHL bend the truth and hide the context behind this year’s robo/text message-friendly voting to crow about setting records and other all-star starter news. It’s actually been a little pathetic to witness.

3) Which of the 14 pending unrestricted and restricted free agents that new jersey has right now will be back next year?

We have 14? Seriously? Oy. I imagine Oduya stays. Madden should stay, although I feel he’s overpaid. Brian Gionta’s a tough nut to crack. Do they really want to pay $5 million for an undersized player who isn’t nearly the sniper he should be? I’m not sure I would.

4) The game is on Versus.  What do you think of how Versus is handling the NHL compared to how ESPN handled it?

Compared to ESPN? Great, if only because they haven’t promoted poker more than hockey, even if they’ve given us another healthy dose of Engblom.

Overall? Not happy. The studio show stinks, the coverage is middling, and would it really kill Versus to have more games on the air considering what the rest of the schedule looks like?

5) Predictions for Tuesday's game?

3-2 Bruins in overtime. Devils get the charity point, but blow a lead late in the game.

Bonus question:  Is your job the best ever?

Since leering at Scarlett Johansson while she sleeps can’t really be considered a profession, yes.
What a pro.  Once again, that's Greg Wyshynski, the Puck Daddy.  If you're not already reading him regularly, you're doing it wrong.

Other Previews:

Of course, I'll have missed something.  Check to your left, as well.  (Woo, automation!)

  • Stanley Cup of Chowder: "The B's have averaged 5.80 goals for in their past five games. I expect tonight's game to be a little bit of a more low scoring affair. The Devils are 7th in GAA (2.58)."
  • Hub Hockey: "Clemmensen has only one regulation loss in his last twelve starts."
  • Here Come the Bruins!: "The Devils are nothing special at home, with a record of 11-5-1. Perhaps it's got to do with averaging less than 15,000 fans per game -- less than the Lightning, Kings and Panthers."
  • The Bear Cave: "Because the Devils get constant offensive contributions from each of their top two forward lines, referring to them as "one" and "two" can be quite the challenge."
  • Bruins Blog: Lines
  • NESN First Shift: "Manny Fernandez (11-2-1, 2.09) vs. Scott Clemmensen (11-3-1, 2.30)"
  • Daily Papers writeup: Boston.com Thumbnails | Herald Scouting Report
  • Bruins.nhl.com: Preview | GameDay | Game Notes (pdf)


Phil Kessel kept his 18 game point streak alive last game.  The Bruins are going for their 6th win in a row for the third time.  If anyone can get the December Jumbotron intro for Bruins home games, that would be huge.


1 Comment:

Tom said...

Great writeup... getting Wyschizinskligniak (Puck Daddy) on board was a nice touch.