BostonBruins.com - Despite a ferocious effort on Thursday night, the Bruins were thwarted by all-world goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, falling to the New York Rangers, 2-1.
With 18 games left in the regular season, and sitting in third place in the Atlantic Division, the B's look to control their own playoff destiny against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night at TD Garden.
Saturday's game is the final of three contests between the Bruins and Devils this season. Each team has held serve at home in the first two matchups.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST on NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Here is what you need to know:
The Bruins (33-25-6, 72 points) held an optional skate Friday morning at Warrior Ice Arena. Taking the ice with the Spoked-B across his chest for the first time was veteran forward Drew Stafford, who the Bruins acquired prior to Wednesday's trade deadline.
Though eight players chose not to take the ice, Stafford enjoyed the opportunity to skate with his new teammates.
"It was good," said Stafford. "It was kind of a skills day, it wasn't too much with the team and systems. Just kind of getting the legs moving and flush out a little bit of the travel and the craziness of yesterday. So, it was get on the ice at least with some of the guys and get moving a bit."
Video: Stafford practices for first time as a Bruin
Interim Head Coach Bruce Cassidy spoke about the fit of Stafford in the team's lineup after practice.
"We'll sort that out in the morning where he fits exactly," said Cassidy. "Today was more of a skills day. Some guys, we gave the option. So, we'll have more of a full line rush practice tomorrow and we'll go from there."
Despite the optional skate, Cassidy affirmed that they have no injury concerns ahead of Saturday's tilt with New Jersey.
"No, we're fine," said Cassidy. "We have our typical March bumps and bruises, but I don't anticipate anybody being out of the lineup tomorrow because of injury."
At such a crucial time of the season, they'll take just the bumps and bruises.
Opposing View: New Jersey Devils
The Devils (25-26-12, 62 points) are currently sitting eight points outside the Eastern Conference wild card picture, making Saturday's game against the Bruins a virtual must-win.
One of the biggest splashes in the offseason was the Devils acquisition of Taylor Hall from the Edmonton Oilers.
Hall, the first overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, has led the Devils in scoring this season, as predicted. The speedster has 41 points (14 goals and 27 assists), despite missing ten games thus far.
Though they rank towards the bottom of the league in scoring, the Devils still have dangerous weapons in Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac, Michael Cammalleri, and more.
Marblehead's own Cory Schneider will be the likely backstop for the Devils on Saturday.
Schneider, who appeared in two games of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final for the Vancouver Canucks, has posted a 19-19-10 record this season. He holds a goals against average of 2.64, with a .914 save percentage.
New Jersey ranks 29th in the NHL in goals for (2.29 goals per game) and 20th in the NHL in goals allowed (2.84 goals per game).
Wait, There's More
- Brad Marchand is currently on a four-game point streak. He has eight points (four goals and four assists) during that span.
- Saturday will mark the 152nd all-time meeting between the Bruins and the Devils. The Bruins hold an 81-41-19-10 record against New Jersey.
Video: Stafford speaks with media after Friday's practice