NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – JANUARY 14: Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins is unable to stop a shot by Ty Smith #24 of the New Jersey Devils as Kyle Palmieri #21 of the Devils block in front in the third period during the home opening game at Prudential Center on January 14, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The New Jersey Devils got their season off to a good start in their opening two-game set against the Boston Bruins. They went 1-0-1 and played very well in both games. They didn’t score as much as they would have liked in either game, but the Bruins do have two very good goalies and one good defensive system. Now, a few weeks later, they are going to be facing that Bruins team but there is definitely a different feel to this one. This isn’t the same Bruins team that hit the ice to open the season.
For one, the Bruins didn’t have David Pastrnak in the lineup for the first few games of the season. Pastrnak is one of the best players in the NHL these days. He hasn’t missed a beat since returning as he has five goals and five assists for ten points in seven games so far this season. The Bruins have one of the most dynamic groups of forwards in the National Hockey League and it only gets worse with Pastrnak.
There are legitimately three Hart Trophy candidates on the Bruins attack as Pastrnak is there with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Most hockey fans are used to seeing that trio together on “The Perfection Line”. Apparently, that isn’t the plan to start this game. Jake DeBrusk is going to play on the Bruins top line and Pastrnak is going to try and get the second line going with David Krejci and Nick Ritchie. Boston has a very good bottom-six so if this works they are truly dangerous.
You would think that the Bruins take a step back when they lose Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug in the same offseason but that hasn’t been the case. Instead, Charlie McAvoy is one of the Norris Trophy favorites and he is surrounded by some other really good players. Based on their practice, it seems like the Devils will face Tuukka Rask in the net. With a group like this, it makes sense when you look at the standings and see the Bruins at the top with a 10-2-2 record.
How do the Devils take down this team? Well, a good start would help. They are also going to have Mackenzie Blackwood in the net who is one of the best goalies in the world at this point. New Jersey needs him to be on top of his game when they are in the TD Garden playing the Bruins. He was brilliant last time around and that might be selling him short. This is a sensational player.
The Devils are playing well. There are people that are skeptical to give them any sort of credit or think that this can continue. It is fair because the Devils haven’t been good for a while but they are playing well and they haven’t even been fully healthy all year. When Nico Hischier and Sami Vatanen are in a fully healthy lineup, we will see the true identity of this team. This game tonight against the Bruins will be very telling.