RECORDS: DEVILS, 3-0-1; BRUINS, 4-0-1
THEME: THE LEADERS HAVE TO LEAD — IN THE FIRST PERIOD, TOO:
PLUS: David Clarkson continues to impress with a hustling, productive game and looks like a leader along with Patrik Elias who delivered handsomely against Montreal. Martin Brodeur‘s splendid angle-cutting in the final minute of regulation, forced Rene Bourque to shoot wide. Else the Devs lose the point they gained via overtime.
MINUS: Mattias Tedenby needs work and will get it in Albany. As Lou Lamoriello explains, the kid is trying too hard; has to learn to relax. The club continues to falter in the first period. Peter DeBoer is urging his veteran leaders to clean up that messy part of the team’s syndrome so far.
EVEN: Dainius Zubrus is excelling with additional playing time. His game-tying goal in the third allowed the club to produce seven points out of a possible eight in four games so far. Despite the continued absence of Adam Henrique, the club still has not lost in regulation.
CHALLENGE: The Big, Bad Bruins are just that. They have a well-balanced offense and two top lines. Defusing the likes of Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic and even Zdeno Chara will be no easy task. Devs have to decide whether or not to retain Stefan Matteau or return him to Juniors. Very, very tough call.
THREE KEYS TO STOPPING BOSTON:
1. Don’t get penalized if you can help it. Playing shorthanded nearly cost a defeat against Washington and did, in overtime, at Montreal.
2. Overall, New Jersey’s penalty-killing has been adequate and it had better be against a mighty Bruins power play.
3. Relentless forechecking by the Devils fourth line could tilt the edge to the visitors. Jump on a Boston club playing the second of back-to-back games after visiting Carolina on Monday night.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
1. TRAVIS ZAJAC VS. PATRICE BERGERON: A pair of shut-down centers will vie on key face-offs.
2. ILYA KOVALCHUK VS. ZDENO CHARA: Here’s a nifty bout; a big scorer against the biggest defenseman.
3. PETER DEBOER VS. CLAUDE JULIEN: Each uses his offensive depth to advantage. Keep your eye on Julien’s choice to check Kovalchuk.
MAVEN’S RAVIN’: The Devils must continue to build a points cushion until Adam Henrique returns. So far this season the Bruins present the toughest challenge.