The Devils try to turn their OT win over the Oilers into an honest-to-goodness winning streak Monday night in Boston as the Devils take on the Bruins.
The win over the Oil was a welcome sight, but now the Devils hit a tough patch in their schedule. A three-game roadie also takes them to Toronto and St. Louis this week, and is followed by a visit from the Washington Capitals. The hole New Jersey has put itself in means that the Devils will need to start beating some of the elite teams on the schedule from here on out; just topping the stragglers like Toronto won’t be good enough.
Fortunately for the Devils, the team’s offense has been clicking in the past two contests, with a combined eight goals. With Ilya Kovalchuk back in the goal column, perhaps the Devils are ready to turn the page. Here are three keys to track in Beantown tonight.
Breakout or Fake Out?
Has New Jersey’s goal-scoring finally come to life or were the past two games simply a function of playing two of the league’s worst defensive teams? The Oilers allow a league-high four goals per game, while the Sabres sit at 3.17. The Bru Crew will offer a much stiffer test with the second-best goals-allowed average in the NHL. If the Devils can light the lamp more than three times tonight it will be a great sign that the offense is finally clicking.
The Injury Bug
The Devils will skate without Jamie Langenbrunner who’s still sore after going headfirst into the boards against Buffalo. They’ll also miss Matt Taormina who hurt his ankle in practice over the weekend. The rookie has been one of the Devils’ best defensemen this season, capable of moving the puck out of the defensive zone. Matt Corrente could be ready to go tonight however after sustaining a non-displaced fracture in his left hand.
The blueline has been better but not great. Buffalo worked some prolonged cycles in the New Jersey zone and the Oilers snagged a 3-1 lead before the Devils rallied. Give up a quick goal or two to the Bruins and their staunch D and it could be over early.
Chara vs. Kovalchuk
In the “game within the game” department, it will be interesting to see how the Devils try to get Kovalchuk away from imposing hulk Zdeno Chara. You can expect the blue line behemoth will be matched up on the Devils' top offensive threat every shift, which should produce a very interesting battle between the players as well as the coaches.