BOSTON – It’s pretty obvious that the Bruins have been in a major slump since their seven game winning streak, which spanned from February 18th – the day they acquired puck moving defenseman Tomas Kaberle from Toronto – in a win over Ottawa to March 3rd in their victory over the Lightning. After that, Zdeno Chara escaped discipline after his hit on Max Pacioretty two weeks ago today and the Bruins have been pretty inconsistent dating back to their loss to the Penguins back on March 5th.
Tonight, the Bruins will look to get back on track when they host the New Jersey Devils at the TD Garden as part of a three-game homestand.
“We haven’t played as well as we can,” stressed head coach Claude Julien, who’s team is 1-3-3 in their last seven games. “I think there’s a better team there in that dressing room than what has showed in the last little while. We just have to straighten that out as soon as we can and hopefully it’s going to start tonight.”
The Black and Gold have already beaten the Devils twice – the first coming on October 16th, the second coming nearly a month later on November 15th – but this is a completely different New Jersey team since the last time they saw them. In fact, the Devils have been one of the leagues hottest teams under new head coach Jacques Leamire (taking over for John MacLean on December 23rd) during the second half after an abysmal start to the season.
“They are one of those teams who are waiting for you to make mistakes,” Chara said about the opposition. “They play a very patient game and they have played well since they made the coaching change.
“Their record has been unbelievable the last 30 games. They are playing with a lot of jump and a lot of energy. We have to be patient and we can’t be frustrated with the style of game that they play.”
Chara also stressed the importance of getting back on track during the team’s last 11 games of the season, eight of which are at home, where the Bruins are just 16-12-5 on the season.
“It’s huge,” said the Bruins’ captain. “We have a lot of home games during the last few weeks and it’s a chance to improve our home record and most importantly improve our game. We are not playing our best hockey right now so we need to play a little better.”
With the Montreal Canadiens (who face the Buffalo Sabres tonight) now trailing by one point in the Northeast Division standings, the Bruins will need some sort of momentum boost heading into Thursday’s showdown with their hated rivals. But before they look ahead the team will have to focus on the task in hand against a resurgent Devils team who is seven points away from the eighth place Sabres.
A win tonight could give the Bruins a little distance between them and the second place Habs in the standings (depending on the result) and could put a dagger into the Devils’ playoff hopes.