BRUINS (40-28-8) at DEVILS (36-32-8)
TV: 7 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, SNO, SNP, SNW, NESN, MSG, NHL.TV
NEWARK, N.J. -- Loui Eriksson will have to adjust to a new position quickly to help the Boston Bruins pick up a much needed win against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Tuesday.
Eriksson, typically the left wing on a line with David Krejci, will start as the Bruins' third-line center between Jimmy Hayes and Frank Vatrano against the Devils. He's replacing Ryan Spooner (undisclosed injury), who did not make the trip to New Jersey.
Eriksson has not played center in his three seasons with the Bruins. He recalls playing center as an injury replacement in only a handful of games during his seven seasons with the Dallas Stars. He only started practicing faceoffs in a serious manner on Monday. He has taken 15 faceoffs this season, winning eight of them.
However, Bruins coach Claude Julien said he's banking on Eriksson's high hockey IQ and ability to come back and play low in the defensive zone to serve Boston well as it tries to increase its lead to three points on the Detroit Red Wings for third place in the Atlantic Division.
"It's a little bit different job, but I've done it as a wing, sometimes you come back and take the centerman's job," said Eriksson, who has 27 goals and 57 points in 76 games this season. "So, I know how to do it, I think, and all I can do is do my best. These are important games."
It's unclear how often Eriksson will actually be in the middle and how many faceoffs he will take Tuesday night. Julien has the option of moving Noel Acciari, the fourth-line center, up to the third line so he can bump Eriksson to the wing, either on the second or third line.
"Unless there is an icing I can always move one of our centers in there if need be," Julien said. "That's something I'll have to manage."
Julien, though, chose Eriksson to replace Spooner at least at the start of the game in lieu of bringing a younger player into the lineup at a critical time of the year.
"When you're fighting for a playoff spot you lean more toward experience down the middle because we know how important that is," Julien said. "We thought Loui could do the job and hopefully it's short term."
The Devils will try to make it tougher for the Bruins with goalie Keith Kinkaid in net for the first time since March 19, when he allowed three goals on 19 shots in 22:50 against the Columbus Blue Jackets before being pulled in favor of Yann Danis.
Kinkaid has allowed 13 goals on 75 shots in his past three starts; he didn't make it through two of them.
"I had a few bad habits creep into my game, but I feel great," Kinkaid said. "I'm confident in my game."
Scott Wedgewood, who started the past four games, will be the backup. He gave up two goals through his first three starts but allowed three on 23 shots in a 3-2 loss against the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.
"Keith deserves another opportunity," Devils coach John Hynes said. "He's been with us all year long, he's played well for us, so it's his opportunity to get back in there and compete. I think it's good that Scotty came in and played well because competition drives everyone. We feel like he's in a good spot mentally and he has his game back from practice, his fundamentals, and now he's got to go out and compete and help us win a game."
Here are the projected lineups:
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Lee Stempniak
Matt Beleskey - David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Frank Vatrano - Loui Eriksson - Jimmy Hayes
Landon Ferraro - Noel Acciari - Brett Connolly
Zdeno Chara - Kevan Miller
Joe Morrow - Dennis Seidenberg
Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid
Injured: Ryan Spooner (undisclosed), John-Michael Liles (lower body)
Scratched: Tyler Randell, Zach Trotman
Reid Boucher - Travis Zajac - Kyle Palmieri
Joseph Blandisi - Adam Henrique - Devante Smith-Pelly
Sergey Kalinin - Blake Pietila - Mike Sislo
Bobby Farnham - Stephen Gionta - Tuomo Ruutu
Adam Larsson - Andy Greene
John Moore - Damon Severson
Seth Helgeson - David Warsofsky
Injured: Cory Schneider (knee), Michael Cammalleri (upper body), Patrik Elias (knee), Jacob Josefson (upper body), Tyler Kennedy (lower body), Jon Merrill (upper body), David Schlemko (upper body), Jiri Tlusty (upper body), Jordin Tootoo (upper body)
Scratched: Vojtek Mozik
Status report: Schneider is aiming to play at the Florida Panthers on Thursday. He will miss his 11th straight game since sustaining a knee injury against the Dallas Stars on March 4. … Liles will miss his second straight game. He did not make the trip to New Jersey.
Who's hot: Zajac has a goal and four assists in his past six games. He scored one of New Jersey's two goals against Carolina. … Eriksson has assists in three straight games, and three goals and five assists in his past eight games. Beleskey had two points in Boston's 3-1 win against the Maple Leafs.