So much for Steve's prediction. Boy wonder, maybe you should give that up. It doesn't seem to work lately. Just busting ya.
Apparently, the Devils decided not to show up for their home game tonight against the Bruins. Boston got the first two and cruised to a 4-1 win in front of a quiet CAA which had little to cheer about. But it is quite funny how much they booed their first place team. What? Your team doesn't win enough? They can't win every game. And they had a pretty good home record to begin with. There are going to be nights where even the best teams just don't have it. When Michael Rupp is your only scorer, let's just say it's not happening. Kind of like the game a couple of weeks ago where Cam Janssen scored. When your best players aren't your best, it usually will result in defeat.
Brian Gionta returned to the lineup but couldn't spark his club. Instead, the team was so bad the first two periods that Claude Julien broke up his lines and tried some weird combos. How else do you explain Sergei Brylin with Jim Down and Patrik Elias?
The Bruins got the first two from ex-Ranger Aaron Ward (yes he did score and played a heck of a game) and a shorthanded goal by Marco Sturm on a breakaway stick side. Trailing by two entering the final stanza, the Devils predictably came with more fire and cut it in half thanks to some grunt work from Scott Gomez. With him distracting Boston netminder Joey MacDonald in front, it allowed Rupp to cruise in and deposit a rebound as a power play expired. As fortune would have it, that was the only one they would get by the ex-Wing who was picked up off waivers. Yes, the Devils somehow managed to turn him into an All Star. MacDonald did play well, finishing with 26 saves to earn the game's First Star.
With New Jersey down one, it didn't take long for the Bruins to retake a two-goal lead when Brandon Bochenski redirected a Stanislav Chistov feed past a sprawling Martin Brodeur less than two minutes later. They credited rookie Phil Kessel with the primary assist. Unless he got a piece of it in traffic, I'm baffled as to why. Kessel did play well though. He has improved since returning from testicular cancer surgery. Enough so for Dave Lewis to even try him on their top line.
The Devils never threatened seriously afterwards. A key block by Ward on a shot in front allowed the Bruins to work the puck out to defensive specialist P.J. Axelsson, who deposited his 11th into an empty net. It gave Boston a huge victory, giving them 69 points to lift them into 11th in the conference over the Rangers. Despite having the same amount of points and games left (17), the Bruins hold the edge due to one more win (32-31). It would seem that both teams are setup to make a run at the final spot held by Carolina. Both have games at hand on the teams ahead of them and have to know that the Canes and Canadiens haven't played well for a while. The Leafs got Darcy Tucker back yesterday which should help but lost Tomas Kaberle due to Cam Janssen's late hit. The opportunity is there for either to make a run. Both are only four off the pace with three extra games remaining.
The Rangers have taken the first two games from Boston this season. There are two remaining on the third and fourth Saturdays of this month. The Blueshirts host the B's on March 17th before visiting Beantown for a rematch on March 24th. So what that means is that those two players who were swapped for each other (Ward and Paul Mara) could play a role in what transpires. Keep a close eye on that!