After three solid days of practice, the Bruins returned to home ice tonight against the New Jersey Devils. The Devils came into town off of a loss to the Buffalo Sabres last night. It seemed like a perfect spot for the Bruins. Coming off a “streak” where they scored five out of six points, a few days of practice, no games, a weary team that is tired from travel and the backup goalie who hasn't seen action yet this season.
Yan Denis, the well travelled netminder that has had stops in Providence (Brown University), Montreal (Canadiens) and New York (Islanders) got his first start of the season tonight and was sharp. The lone Bruin goal came just after the Devils killed a power play and was off of a goal mouth scramble. Outside of that bit of bad luck, he was in full control positionaly in his crease and with his rebound control. Very rarely did he leave anything in a shooting lane. When asked about him finally getting a start, Denis replied, “I felt pretty confident coming in. Like I said, I think I’ve been playing really well in practice and I think that’s the key. They had a few chances early on and I made the saves and built confidence from that and then we scored the first goal. Then after that we kind of settled down a bit and played really good defensively. It definitely helped me out there.”
The Bruins played well tonight but they played against a Jacques Lemaire trapping team that rarely put pressure on the Bruins defense. Many Bruin rushes stalled out near the red line as it was where there were usually four Devils. Then when they did get into the offensive zone, the Devils kept most of their chances to the outside where Denis was never really tested.
Unfortunately for the Bruins, they made their mistakes and it cost them. On the first Devil goal, Andrew Ference pinched from his right point and while Shawn Thornton covered the point, he pinched on a puck that squirted past him setting up a Devil two on one. Mark Stuart played it perfectly, staying in the center of the defensive zone almost forcing Niclas Bergfors to shoot on Tim Thomas. Bergfors shot 5 hole on Thomas and while the Bruin netminder got most of it, the puck trickled under him and sat momentarily in the crease. David Clarkson tapped the puck into the empty net for an early Devil 1-0 lead.
The New Jersey “big line” was responsible for the game winner. With just under two minutes remaining in the game, Dainius Zubrus tapped home the winner off of a goal mouth scramble. Jamie Langenbrunner's blast from the circle was blocked but Zach Parise hacked at the bouncing puck that Thomas momentarilly stopped. As the puck trickled through his legs, Zubrus got behind the Bruins defense and tucked it into the empty net. When asked if the goals were the same, Thomas quipped, “they weren’t really similar at all except for where they kind of ended up. I get a piece of them to stop it, but it’s right behind me.”
I really liked how Daniel Paille and Vlad Sobotka played together. In only 10:08 of ice time, Sobotka led the team with six hits. Sobotka did say he felt more comfortable playing center instead of out on the wing.
Three Stars for the night…
1 – Dainius Zubrus – tapped home the game winner with 1:26 left in the game.
2 – Patrice Bergeron – consistantly the Bruins best forward all season and scored the only B's goal
3 – Yann Denis – was the best Devil on the ice. In complete control of his crease and rebounds. Games like this will give Brodeur more nights off this season keeping him fresh for the spring.
Next up the Edmonton Oilers come to town for a Halloween matinee. Bruins should be able to take advantage of an Oiler team that plays Thursday night at home then travels through two time zones to play what will feel like a morning game for them.
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Written by Jim Mulligan