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Bruins vs Devils 12/23/22 PREVIEW: A potential playoff preview?

The last big hump to get over before the Christmas break is...The Devils. Is it the early 2000’s again? Is Nick at Nite still on the air?

Boston Bruins v New Jersey Devils Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Just the Facts:

The Time: 7pm EST

The Place: Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey

Place to Watch: NESN, SportsNet and it’s many regional variants (Sportsnet East, Sportsnet Ontario, Sportsnet 1, Sportsnet 360), MSGSN2 if you’re in the Newark area.

Place to Listen: 98.5 The Sports Hub

Know Your Enemy:

  • The Devils were on a torrid pace, but are now cooling off having been 3-5-2 in their last 10.
  • Jack Hughes, man. 38 points in 31 games, leads the team in goals scored with 17 and in assists; his arrival has been a great boon on the Garden State and a blight to most Metro teams who face him.
  • The man to watch on their power play is Jesper Bratt, who has 13 power play points; 5 of whom are goals.
  • If the Bruins get any power plays, they should watch Yegor Sharangovich like a hawk, as he’s tied for 3rd in the league in short-handed points with 3, two of which were goals. Puck security is key out here!
  • Dougie Hamilton’s back in town, and I regret to inform you that the NHL’s biggest nerd is still in fact very good at ice hockey; 26 points in 33 games is the highest among Devils defenders.
  • Erik Haula’s return is also tonight, as he has 14 points in 33 games as a depth guy for New Jersey.
  • In goal for the Devils is Vitek Vanecek, who currently holds a .908 SV%. There’s also Mackenzie Blackwood, who is sub-.900 but is famous for his seeming ability to become Ken Dryden and Dominik Hasek all at once when facing Boston. We’ll see which of the two gets the call for tonight.

Game Preview:

You remember the last couple years of Devils games? Where the Devils played really fast and often did really weird and dumb things and that caused the Bruins to do really weird and dumb things but most of the time they had control of the game and beat them like 4-1 with regularity?

Yeah. I don’t think that’s this year’s Devils. This year’s Devils are at long last what preseason previews have been all but begging them to be: Scary good. They have the puck a lot, they move it around fast, and they hammer their opponents in the dangerous areas of the ice. The Red and Black are the other tentpole team of the Eastern Conference, and they’re making people veeery nervous these days. The Devils are top of the league in pretty much every shot-related metric, particularly in high-danger chances.

They’re currently going through a bit of a skid however, having surrendered their deathgrip on the Metro division to the Canes on point percentage, and that’s good news for a Bruins team that can make skids so much worse if given the opportunity. The B’s league-leading High-danger SV% will be sorely tested, that’s for sure, but if anyone on planet earth can show New Jersey who’s the real run of the conference, it’s Boston.

Call in sick to your office christmas parties and obligations, I think this is gonna be a game you don’t want to miss.