BOSTON — Drew Stafford has played as many games against the Boston Bruins as he has against any team in the NHL. On Saturday night, he gets to wear the old “Spoked B” when his new team hosts the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden.
“I’ve had a long history against this team and the organization,” said Stafford, acquired from the Winnipeg Jets at the trade deadline, after his first practice with his new team on Friday.
“I’ve always been a big fan of the city and the team,” said the longtime Buffalo Sabre. “Knowing guys who have played here throughout the years, they say nothing but good things about it. I’m excited to be on board and hopefully carry over some of that past success to help these guys win some games.”
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With the deal — the Jets received a conditional sixth-round draft pick — Stafford went from being on the outside of the playoff picture to being right in the middle of a race. The Bruins, losing Thursday night for only the second time in nine games under interim coach Bruce Cassidy, were in third place in the Atlantic Division through Thursday.
Stafford watched that game, meeting the media between the second and third periods of the 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers.
“I know a lot of the guys here are focused on getting back into the playoffs and back into the hunt,” Stafford said. “I’m going to do the best I can to my ability to help this team win games. The way this team has been playing as of late, from what I’ve heard and what I’ve seen, we’re in the mix to get back into the playoffs.”
The Devils are technically alive in the Eastern playoff chase. But through Thursday night’s 1-0 loss in Washington, they were eight points out of a wild card spot. They were also much closer to last place that the playoffs — they were ahead of only Carolina and Detroit, who both have games in hand.
On Thursday night, Mike Cammalleri suffered what appeared to be a shoulder injury when he went into the boards and he is considered week-to-week. His place Saturday could be taken by rookie Pavel Zacha, who has missed the last three games with his second concussion of the season and just returned to practice Friday.
The Devils don’t want to rush him and coach John Hynes said he didn’t plan on using newly acquired defenseman Dalton Prout.
Short a forward, New Jersey could either bring one up from Albany or could go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.
Speaking of that practice, New Jersey skated at Boston University’s Agganis Arena — a special day for former Boston University player Hynes.
“Yeah, it’s nice to be back in Boston but then, particularly, in having an opportunity to practice here,” Hynes said. “I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to get back and see the building but also the guys that work at the rink that I knew when I was real young.
“Most of my adult life is attributed to the relationships that I’ve created through BU and the opportunities I had in college and as a grad assistant coach.”
The Bruins outplayed the visiting Rangers Thursday night, but ran into a red-hot Henrik Lundqvist as Cassidy lost at home for the first time in five games behind the bench.