Mounting defensive injuries haven’t stopped the Boston Bruins from finding their stride, and the New Jersey Devils aren’t seeking out any excuses for their recent form despite being without key forwards.
The Bruins will try to complete a perfect homestand Monday night, while the Devils try to avoid their second four-game losing streak of the young season.
Boston (9-6-0) has won four in a row, including the last three at home, and could be getting some blue-line help. Torey Krug may return from a broken finger that’s kept him out of the last five games.
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Krug has returned to practice, but his status is uncertain. Fellow defensemen Zdeno Chara (knee) and Kevan Miller (shoulder) remain out, while David Krejci is day to day with an undisclosed injury that has limited the forward to 10 games this season. Krejci has 11 points in his last eight games against New Jersey.
Despite the injuries, the Bruins have limited opponents to seven goals during the win streak on an average of 22.3 shots per game. They gave up 34.2 on the 3-3-0 stretch that preceded it.
Thursday’s 5-2 win over Edmonton featured a slow start offensively and a strong finish with four goals in the final nine minutes. Dougie Hamilton had a goal and two assists, giving the defenseman eight points in six games after managing two in the first nine.
Carl Soderberg, Reilly Smith and Loui Eriksson each had a goal and an assist.
"When we were struggling, we didn’t have that confidence to finish off those games and get a win," Soderberg told the team’s official website. "So hopefully we get more confidence and can keep winning those games in the future."
Confidence could also be mounting for Tuukka Rask. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner has won all three of his starts this month with a 1.64 goals-against average after posting a 3.25 GAA in his previous six games.
Against New Jersey, Rask is 3-2-1 with a 1.44 GAA in six starts.
The Bruins have won 12 of the last 15 meetings, including six of seven in Boston, and are potentially catching the Devils (6-6-2) at a good time.
New Jersey’s 4-2 loss in Detroit on Friday was its third straight regulation defeat – a deserved result, according to coach Peter DeBoer.
"I think the score was flattering," DeBoer said via the team’s official Twitter feed. "There weren’t many silver linings tonight. They were the better team. It was the right result."
The Devils were without forwards Ryane Clowe (head), Mike Cammalleri (head), Martin Havlat (lower body) and Adam Henrique (lower body), as well as defenseman Jon Merrill (arm). Cammalleri and Havlat practiced Sunday, while Clowe, Henrique and Merrill remained out.
In goal, Cory Schneider allowed four goals on 24 shots and was pulled for the third period. He’s been pulled from each of his last three starts on the road and is 3-5-2 with a 3.18 GAA overall since winning his first three games of the season.
"I think right now we all need to take a look at ourselves, me included," Schneider said. "We need to be great on these nights, we can’t just be good."
The penalty kill has been a big part of the problem. The Devils have allowed at least one power-play goal in four straight games, and their 38-for-58 season mark (65.5 percent) ranks last in the league.