Hockey is back folks and tonight the Boston Bruins will be facing the New Jersey Devils tonight at the Prudential Center. Both teams will face each other a total of eight times this year. Things are a little different this season as divisions are altered and the Bruins are looking, well you guessed, a bit different.
For the first time in a long time, the Black and Gold will be without their long-standing Captain Zdeno Chara. As the city of Boston bid a somber farewell to number 33, a new era will be ushered in. In the worst kept secret in hockey and in Bruins history, the team welcomed their new Captain; number 37, Patrice Bergeron.
HELLO AGAIN, OLD FRIEND
New faces graced the ice as the players got in as much ice team in the appreciated camp these past few weeks at the Warrior Ice Arena. While no one's position is a guarantee, early looks seem to bode well for the new guys. While other familiar faces that have seen more time down in Providence fight to secure a potential spot, others were simply tested their legs out. With lines starting to take shape, a well-known player to the defense corp is looking to pick up where Chara left off.
BACK AT 'EM
Since April 2019, Kevan Miller has not played a game due to a fractured patella that required multiple surgeries. Working off-season Miller seemed to steadily re-adjusting to the speed of the game. With both Chara and Krug gone, Miller will be the most battle-worn out of all the defensemen. A player that Miller has been mentoring (and who is vying for a spot) is Jakub Zboril. Both have paired up during the training camp. Taking a more leadership role is reminiscent of when Miller was paired with Matt Grzlecky in 2017. The 2015 first-round pick is hoping time with the veteran defenseman will give him the confidence to push for a spot.
One possible line fans will see is a heavy third line with Charlie Coyle, newcomer Craig Smith, and Nick Ritchie. An avid shooter, Smith has been garnering good lucks on the ice during camp. The 6-foot-1 winger looks to be skilled in the sticky situation especially in the corner. Coach Bruce Cassidy recently stated:
On the ice, work ethic, second and third effort guy on the puck, willing to shoot, willing to get to the net...I think he has complemented (Coyle and Ritchie) and will continue to. It can be a big line, a line with pace, a line that's hard to play against...
IN OTHER BRUINS NEWS
The tandem of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak will hopefully continue to be on NHL's top duos. Both goaltenders have been reportedly kept separate due to Covid-19 protocols. Expect Rask to start the first few games as both teams skate off the rust. The team announced they had waived a few players-Anton Blidh, Paul Carey, Steven Kampfer, Par Lindholm, Greg McKegg, and Zach Senyshyn.
There are still spots available on the backend and the battle up front for David Pastrnak spot is still up in the air, although we may see Jack Studnicka. Pastrnak skating recently in a maroon non-contact jersey as he continues to rehab from surgery. Brad Marchand participated in the practice and looks to be ready to go, however, he is still considered a game-time decision.
Here are the potential opening game roster for the Boston Bruins (subject to change):
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Jack Studnicka
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Ondrej Kase
Nick Ritchie - Charlie Coyle - Craig Smith
Anders Bjork - Sean Kuraly - Chris Wagner
Par Lindholm/Trent Frederic
Jeremy Lauzon - Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk - Brandon Carlo
Jakub Zboril - Kevan Miller
John Moore - Connor Clifton
WELCOME TO NEW JERSEY
The New Jersey Devils recently announced their roster for this season and the addition of Ty Smith. The 20-year-old defenseman made the team's roster out of camp. He will be making his NHL debut tonight against Boston on home ice. Some familiar faces return to the Devils roster as winger Jesper Bratt recently re-signed for two seasons for $5.5 million. Bratt is awaiting to make it back to New Jersey as he awaits his work visa.
Sami Vatanen is back with New Jersey as the free-agent signed on January 7th after being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes. Hockey Hall of Famer and former Bruin Mark Recchi is the Devil's new assistant coach and has been working steadily with 19-year-old center Jack Hughes. Ahead of tonight's tilt, the team has been focusing heavily on their special teams as they face the Boston Bruins.
Here are the projected lines for the New Jersey Devils:
Sarangovich - Hughes - Palmieri
Johnsson - Zacha - Gusev
Wood - Zajac - Boqvist
Kuokkanen - McLeod - Bastian
Murray - Subban
Kulikov - Severson
Smith - Tennyson
Butcher - Carrick
WHEN AND WHERE TO WATCH: Boston Bruins @ New Jersey Devils. Tonight with puck drop at 7:00 pm. NESN and MSG+
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Featured Image Courtesy of Steven Ryan | Getty Images)