NEWARK, N.J. - The Devils will play their final home game of the 2020-21 season Tuesday night, which will also be their season-series finale against Boston.
The Devils will be without rookie defenseman Ty Smith, who re-aggravated an upper-body injury. Blueliner Matt Tennyson, who had been dealing with a lower-body injury, will return to the lineup.
"We'll take (Smith's injury) day-to-day," Devils head coach Lindy Ruff said. "It's something we don't want him to play with."
The Devils still do not have defensemen P.K. Subban or Jonas Siegenthaler, both of whom have just recovered from COVID-19.
Siegenthaler, who has been out of the lineup since April 22, will skate Tuesday afternoon for the first time since the diagnosis. Subban, who has been out since April 18, could start skating soon.
"P.K. will not be on the ice yet. He's back working out," Ruff said. "With COVID it's affected different players differently. P.K. will be day-to-day. Whether he gets back on the ice tomorrow or the day after, we'll see."
As the regular season draws to a conclusion, only four games remain on the Devils' schedule, the coaching staff is weighing the merits of either pushing players to return for one or two games of action or just letting them shut down for the season and just focus on offseason recover.
"We usually try to get three or four hard practices in before you can play," Ruff said. "(Subban and Siegenthaler) have had almost two weeks off with no conditioning, no cardiovascular. What type of position are we putting those players in by trying to practice them for three days and say 'OK, you'll play the last game of the year.'
"I think we have to weight where they're at. We have to get an understanding, some guys have lost weight with COVID. Some guys have lost strength. It takes a few days to get that back.
"We'll evaluate everything."
Ruff tipped his cap to the Bruins for their performance in Monday's 3-0 victory. He noted that top-bottom and in every category Boston was better. And that's something he doesn't want to see repeated Tuesday night.
"We need to improve in all the areas. They won the battle in all three zones," Ruff said. "Last night was a night where all three zones we were off. I have to give them a lot of credit. They skated hard. They got above us. They took our ice away. A lot of things that I talk about when we're going well. Those are the areas, pretty well covers everything, but we need to be better."
Some items Ruff pointed out where:
Being more connected in the D-zone
Breakouts from D-zone
Getting in front of the Bruins in the neutral zone
Winning battles and getting more pucks through on shots in O-zone
F1 hunting down pucks in offensive zone
DEVILS (17-28-7) vs. BOSTON (31-14-6)
TV: MSG AT 7 PM ET
The Devils and Bruins finish off their season series and the backend of back-to-back games Tuesday night. Boston won the initial meeting Monday night, 3-0. The Devils still lead the season series thus far with a 4-1-2 record. New Jersey is 1-1-1 against Boston at home.
Jack Hughes leads the Devils in assists (4) and points (4). Forward Miles Wood has a team-best three goals in the series. The team leader in both categories had been the since departed Kyle Palmieri with five goals and six points.
Brad Marchand bests the Bruins in goals (2) and points (7). Sniper David Pastrnak has been limited to just one goal in five games.
Devils Team Scope:
The Devils had their four-game winning streak, and four-game point streak (3-0-1), snapped in Monday's 3-0 loss to Boston.
Forward A.J. Greer made his Devils debut in the contest, his first game since Feb. 23, 2019. Goaltender Scott Wedgewood made 39 saves in the losing effort.
Bruins Team Scope:
Boston officially clinched a playoff spot in the East Division with its victory Monday. Goaltender Tuukka Rask made 20 saves to record his 52nd-career shutout.
The Bruins are led by the three-headed monster of Marchand (27G-36A-63PTS), Patrice Bergeron (20G-25A-45PTS) and Pastrnak (19G-24A-43PTS). Former Devil and trade deadline acquisition Taylor Hall has five goals and 10 points in 12 games since joining Boston.
By the Numbers:
Goalie Mackenzie Blackwood is 3-0-2 against the Bruins with a 1.72 goals-against average and .950 save percentage.
Marchand was named the East Division Star of the Month for April. He led the league in goals (14) and tied for the league lead in points (24) in 17 games in the month. He had two assists in Monday's win.