Back Check with the Bruins Buff

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Game 49 -- New Jersey Devils @ Boston Bruins Preview

Game #49 Preview
(1) Boston Bruins: 35-8-5
(3) New Jersey Devils: 30-15-3

Thursday, January 29, 2009 @ 7 pm
Home Arena: TD Banknorth Garden
Season Series: Bruins Lead 1-0
TV Broadcasts: NESN (HD), MSG (HD)

Boston Injuries

(G) Manny Fernandez: Day-To-Day
(LW) Marco Sturm: Out For the Season
Notes: Phil Kessel (RW) and Michael Ryder (RW) are expected to play tonight after missing time with the club.

Petteri Nokelainen (C/W) did not practice yesterday due to an undisclosed injury and may not suit up for the game.
New Jersey Injuries

(G) Martin Brodeur: Out indefinitely

Who's Hot For the Bruins?

(G) Tim Thomas: 5-1-1 in seven consecutive starts with a .941 save percentage
(C) Marc Savard: 17 points in the last 14 games, +26 rating on the year

Who's Hot For the Devils?

(G) Scott Clemmensen: 4-0-0 in four consecutive starts with a 1.25 goals against average
(LW) Zach Parise: 6 points in last four games, 28 goals this season

The Buff's Three Keys to the Game

1.) Top New Jersey's Goaltending

New Jersey is stuck with a goaltending situation they couldn't have possibly imagined. But the team isn't complaining.

Devils goaltender Marty Brodeur went down with an elbow injury in November -- an injury that continues to keep him off the ice. Most experts wrote off the Devils right then and there, claiming that New Jersey couldn't make a playoff run without the face of its franchise.

In a move that screamed desperation, New Jersey called up rookie 'tender Scott Clemmensen from the Lowell Devils in the AHL to stand between the pipes. But he's done more than just that.

The Iowa native is a stunning 20-9-1 this season, boasting a .923 save percentage. More than half of those wins have come on the road, where Clemmensen holds an 11-5-1 record on the year.

He comes into Boston with five wins in his last five starts. But Clemmensen only has two career victories over the B's. They'll have to shoot hard, shoot quick, and shoot often to get under his skin.

2.) Gain the Early Lead

The Devils have only won five games when trailing on the scoreboard after the first period.

But they're 15-3-2 when leading after the first. And the squad hasn't lost a game in regulation when holding the lead after the second period.

The B's need to pounce on the Devils early and pot a few goals right off the bat. They can't wait too long or NJ will sucker them into playing the neutral zone trap -- a form of hockey that can cure even the heaviest cases of insomnia.

3.) Stay Out of the Box

The Bruins may have well bought a timeshare at the penalty box Tuesday night. The team made six trips to the sin bin thanks to careless hooking and high-sticking penalties.

Luckily, Washington failed to convert on any of those chances.

But New Jersey might not give the B's that luxury. Though its power play is only ranked 14th in the league, NJ has scored three goals on the man advantage in its last five games.

Fact(s) of the Game

Devils goaltender Scott Clemmensen never suited up for the Bruins, but that doesn't mean he's a stranger to Boston hockey.

Clemmensen led the Boston College Eagles to a National Championship in 2001, his fourth and final year with the team. He played 39 games with the club that season, posting an impressive 30 wins topped off with a whopping 876 saves.

Another interesting fact -- NJ defenseman Jay Leach has two connections to the Bruins.

Leach played in the AHL with the Providence B's for three seasons starting in 2004. He even got a taste of the NHL, registering no points and seven penalty minutes in two games with Boston.

Leach is also engaged to Kathryn Tappen, NESN's studio host for Boston Bruins games. The two announced their marriage plans late last year.


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