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Need to Know: Bruins vs. Devils

Ritchie back in as Black & Gold return to TD Garden for home opener

by Eric Russo @erusso22 / BostonBruins.com

BOSTON - The Bruins will be back on Causeway Street on Saturday night to open up their home slate against the New Jersey Devils. They return to TD Garden having taken three of four on their season-opening road trip and will be looking to carry over that momentum in front of the Black & Gold faithful.

"Hopefully there's [a buzz] in the building that gets us going, which I assume there will be. Our fans are very good that way," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "Coming off this trip, late night, I don't think we're up to speed yet - I'll be perfectly honest. I think guys are still adjusting to the time change, getting back at 7 in the morning, getting their feet under them today. 

"It will be a challenge for us to get an on-time start. That will be the biggest challenge for us, to make sure myself, the coaching staff, leadership group, make sure the guys are ready to play."

With a number of changes inside TD Garden, including a completely renovated dressing room, the Bruins moved pregame skate from Warrior Ice Arena to adjust to the new space.

"We wanted them to come down early, get the looking around out of the way," said Cassidy. "Hockey players are creatures of habit, so if something is out of place it can affect them. Other guys can sort of brush it off. I think a lot of guys like things the way they are and want to focus on the game and not worry about every little detail.

"That's part of the newness. We have to get over that in a hurry. I know it sounds juvenile, but sometimes that's just the way it is in a new workplace."

While playing at the Garden is no longer new to Charlie Coyle - who was acquired from the Minnesota Wild last February - the Weymouth native is looking forward to his first home opener donning the Spoked-B.

"Coming in last year midway through the year you miss some things, this is one of them," said Coyle. "Just getting hockey back here at the Garden, seeing the fans again, and playing in this building, we love that. We're all excited."

Ritchie Returns

After sitting out the Bruins' road trip finale in Colorado as a healthy scratch, Brett Ritchie will be back in the lineup against the Devils as the third-line right wing with David Backes subbing out. Just four games into the season, Cassidy noted that he is still trying to iron out his forward combinations, especially with some competition remaining on the right side.

"That's how it's working tonight," said Cassidy. "Monday, we'll see how it goes. Ritchie, Backes, [Chris] Wagner bring some of the same characteristics. Still keeping an eye on [Karson Kuhlman] up there [on the second line]. There was some competition on the right side.

"That's where we're at with it right now. It's a little early to say who's where. Happy with everyone, but clearly no one has separated themselves. Until they do, we'll mix and match."

With those moving parts up front, Coyle and Danton Heinen have played with both Ritchie and Backes to this point, meaning that communication is key as chemistry continues to build.

"Whoever we're playing with, we need to make the most of it," said Coyle. "If we can get a practice or two in, get some reps in there to try to create some chemistry that way, that always helps. Sometimes that's not always the case with travel and being on the road, you have days off so it's pregame skate and right to it.

"You've got to turn your brain on, talk a lot off the ice with whoever you're with and just do those little things. I think that's the best way to go about it. But the more games we play, we'll get used to each other and our tendencies and I think we'll gel a little bit better then."

Opposing View

The Devils, off to an 0-2-2 start, have quite a different look than they did a year ago, having added winger Wayne Simmonds through free agency and defenseman P.K. Subban via trade with Nashville. New Jersey also has No. 1 overall pick Jack Hughes in the mix.

"Jersey plays us hard every time," said Cassidy. "They're a fast team, we have to make sure we match their intensity, especially early. That's the biggest challenge. Hopefully the opener and a little bit of juice in the building, that will give us an edge."

Taylor Hall (three assists), Blake Coleman (two goals, assist) and Kyle Palmieri (two goals, assist) are pacing the Devils thus far with 3 points each.

Corey Schneider (0-1-0, 3.50 GAA, .891 save percentage) is expected to get the start in goal.

Saturday's Projected Lineup

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Karson Kuhlman

Danton Heinen - Charlie Coyle - Brett Ritchie

Joakim Nordstrom - Sean Kuraly - Chris Wagner

 

Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo

Matt Grzelcyk - Connor Clifton

 

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

 

Scratches: David Backes, Par Lindholm, Steven Kampfer.

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