NEWARK — Greetings from the outer-outer west side of Manhattan, where it’s a chilly 14 degrees this morning, some 10 hours before the Bruins face the Devils here tonight at the Prudential Center.
The Bruins are in action for the first time in the new calendar year, hoping to kickstart their game after a fairly listless 4-2 loss Saturday night in Dallas, where they cobbled together only 20 shots against Michael Ryder and friends. Five of the Black-and-Gold forwards did not land a single shot on net in Big D.
After a torrid November and December, when the Bruins were the NHL’s hottest team over the course of nine weeks, they begin the new year parked in second place in the Eastern Conference with a 24-10-1 record and 49 points. For all their good work recently, they have but a six-point cushion over the likes of Winnipeg and Toronto, both of whom would be DNQs if the playoffs began today.
The Bruins have 47 games remaining on the ’11-’12 sked. They could lose every game in OT the rest of the way and still make the playoffs with 96 poiints.
Puck drop: 7:35 p.m. EST
Record: Bruins, 24-10-1; Devils, 21-15-2
TV/radio info: NBC Sports Network (cable), 98.5 The Sports Hub (Dave Goucher, Bob Beers)
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot-Chris Kelly-Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg-Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid
Healthy scratches: Steve Kampfer
Storylines: Out of the playoffs last season for the first time since 1995-’96, the Devils (21-15-2) trail the Bruins by only three wins in the victory column and are tied with the Caps for the No.7 spot in the East….Aged winger Patrik Elias leads the way for New Jersey with a 13-21—34 line…The Devils have a bonafide Rookie-of-the-year candidate in 21-year-old pivot Adam Henrique. The second-year pro, chosen 82nd overall in the ’08 draft, enters tonight’s action with 10 goals and 28 points…..Guess work at this point in the day, but the probable starters in net are Tim Thomas for the Bruins and Martin Brodeur, No. 1 on the all-time win list (636 and counting) for the former Colorado Rockies….Tonight begins a hardest-working-team-in-show-business stretch for the Bruins during which they play 12 games in 21 days. Serious digging, a pace of better than a game every other night….Russian money merchant Ilya Kovalchuk stands 12-18–30 through 33 games. He is still delivering considerably south of the megacontract he signed here prior to last season….Sophomore Tyler Seguin still leads the scoring chart (15-17–32) for the Bruins, with linemates Brad Marchand (30 points) and Patrice Bergeron (28) close on his speedy heels…Sputtering Boston power forward Nathan Horton has only 2 goals and 4 points over his last 11 games, a drag on linemates David Krejci and Milan Lucic. He also has landed but seven shots on net in his last seven games. Lucic is 3-0–3 in his last four games, collecting 8 shots, while Krejci is 2-4–6 in his last five games, landing 10 shots. Clearly, they need Neutralized Nathan to be more engaged in the entire offensive process.