NHL Hockey Picks and Tips: Boston Bruins vs New Jersey Devils
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Boston will welcome back truculent winger Brad Marchand from a five-game suspension he was given for a clipping incident in a game against the Vancouver Canucks earlier this month. Marchand, who has 32 points in 37 games in what has been a breakout season, says he intends to get right back to doing what he did before the ban. "That's the plan," Marchand told the team's website. "Go in and create energy like I try to do, continue to play my game and hopefully get some shifts back with (Tyler Seguin) and (Patrice Bergeron) - if that's where I am - and carry on where we left off.
" The Devils have won five of six games to climb into sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings. "I don't know if we can play much better than we are," says resurgent Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk, who comes into this one with multi-point efforts in five of his last six outings.
Boston Bruins (29-13-1): Boston has dropped two of three games during its trek, but Marchand isn't concerned. "I wouldn't say were in a lull, we're still winning games," he said. "We might've lost a couple, but you're not going to win every game in the season." Boston also expects to welcome veteran forward Rich Peverley back to the lineup against the Devils. Peverley missed the Bruins' last two games while attending to a personal matter.
New Jersey Devils (26-17-2): So much was made of Ilya Kovalchuk's mammoth contract signing prior to last season - and his inability to live up to the hefty dollar amount in Year 1. The skeptics have far less ammunition to work with this season, with Kovalchuk the catalyst of New Jersey's return to respectability. The All-Star winger leads the club with 19 goals - including three game winners - and 40 points over his first 40 games of the season.
1. Boston has won both meetings between the clubs so far in 2011-12, shading the Devils 4-3 on Nov. 15 before cruising to a 6-1 victory on Jan. 4.
2. Power-play goals may be hard to come by Thursday. The Devils have the league's top penalty-killing unit at 90.6 percent, with the Bruins sitting sixth at 86.4.
3. Marchand has a goal and two assists in eight career games against New Jersey.
NHL PREDICTION: Bruins 3, Devils 1
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