The Boston Bruins (39-22-10) haven't been a kind opponent to the New Jersey Devils (34-34-4).
The Bruins have won all three meetings this season, outscoring the Devils 8-1. But those came during a different time, when Boston was among the strongest teams in the conference and New Jersey sat floundering in the league basement.
The revitalized Devils will look to finally break through against the slumping Bruins tonight at TD Garden in Boston.
New Jersey enters the game seven points behind the Buffalo Sabres for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. With a critical matchup against the Sabres set for Saturday night, the Devils can't afford to leave two points on the table against the Bruins.
Despite their recent struggles, the Devils remained one of the best teams in the league during the second half of the season. Their 24-5-2 in their last 31 games, earning them a tie for 11th with the Atlanta Thrashers.
Boston sits on the other end of the spectrum. Boston has won just once in seven games (1-3-3), watching their division lead over the Montreal Canadiens shrink from six points to one. The defense has been the biggest letdown, allowing 26 goals over the latest seven-game stretch.
Even Vezina candidate Tim Thomas struggled. Thomas recorded a 3.62 goals-against average during a four-game losing streak. But the NHL's goals-against average stopped 59 of 60 Devils' shots in two wins this season.
Martin Brodeur will start for the Devils. In 22 appearances since January 1, Brodeur is 16-4-1 with a 1.67 goals-against average, a .927 save percentage and two shutouts. He allowed two or more goals in one of his past 14 games. Brodeur is 24-17-1 with eight ties against the Bruins.
This is the second of a four-game road trip for the Devils. After tonight's game, they face the Pittsburgh Senators before a pivotal game against the Buffalo Sabres.
Playoff Tracker 2011
There are several games tonight which have a direct impact on the Devils standings. They are:
Ottawa Senators at Carolina Hurricanes: One of these teams is playing for pride, the other a shot at the playoffs. Guess who? If you voted the Hurricanes, then come on down! The Hurricanes enter tonight's action trailing Buffalo by three points for the eighth seed of the playoffs. Clearly, Dena wants him to fail.
Buffalo Sabres at Montreal Canadiens: This promises to be an entertaining game. Here's two teams that can't stand each other, division foes fighting for their playoff lives. If Buffalo loses in regulation, the Devils will have a chance to move within five points of the final playoff spot.