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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Perfect time to face the New Jersey Devils

Once upon a time, the New Jersey Devils were one of the truly elite teams in the NHL. They won Stanley Cups, Kevin Smith and Co. wore their jerseys in his movies and life was good in miserable Northern New Jersey.

Times have changed big time, last season's prompt playoff exit was a clue that the immortal Martin Brodeur ain't what he used to be. Coupled with a crippling amount of injuries and throwing way too much money at Ilya Kovalchuk and you can start to understand why the Devils are nothing more than a smoldering wreck on the NHL landscape this season.

Not even former Devils great and Die Hard inspiration John Mclean can turn things around with this AHL worthy squad.

New Jersey (5-11-2) had actually been playing better lately but you wouldn't know it if you watched last night's 3-0 win by the Boston Bruins (9-5-1) at the TD Garden.

Tim Thomas (28 saves) boosted his record to 9-1-0 with his fourth shutout of the season. Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler, Boston's most expendable players who are thought to be gone when Marco Sturm and Marc Savard return, continue to make that decision tougher as they play well and put the puck in the net.

I don't think I've ever mentioned him but Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart had a whale of a game, continually pummelling nameless Devils. Adam McQuaid also fired up the crowd and the team with a fight against Rod Pelley early in the first period. He'll likely be sent down or be a healthy scratch when Johnny Boychuk comes back from his broken forearm but McQuaid has proven he's a solid defenseman.

Ryder gave the Bs a 1-0 lead in the first period with a power play goal (5 on 3) with 4:34 left. Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi assisted on Ryder's sneaky shot from the side. He looked like he was going to pass, Brodeur (21 saves) bought it, and then he whipped it at the goal and in.

43 seconds into the second period, Nathan Horton scored his team-leading eighth goal of the season, from Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara. Lucic found him with a strong cross ice pass and then Horton seemed to catch Brodeur by surprise with a long, low snap shot.

Wheeler capped the scoring 43 seconds into the third period with a wrist shot assisted by Recchi and Jordan Caron. Switched to center (his position in college) with David Krejci out, Wheeler has looked more comfortable on the ice.

The Bruins visit Long Island tomorrow night to visit the NHL's worst team - the Islanders - who fired head coach Scott Gordon (former Providence Bruins coach) yesterday. Boston needs to keep up the momentum while their schedule lets up for a few games.

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