DEVILS (15-20-7) at BRUINS (20-15-6)
TV: MSG+, NESN
BOSTON -- The New Jersey Devils have won two in a row for the first time since Nov. 11-14, but that hasn't stopped them from making a lineup change for their game against the Boston Bruins on Thursday at TD Garden.
Forward Martin Havlat, who's been out ill for five of the past seven games, will play and forward Steve Bernier will be a healthy scratch, Devils interim co-coach Lou Lamoriello said.
"Well, Havlat has been sick. He played well before he came out," Lamoriello said after the Devils' morning skate. "So the thought process was get him back in. [Bernier] played well. You can't play everybody right now. We're healthy up front."
Havlat projects to play left wing on a line centered by Dainius Zubrus and right wing Michael Ryder. The Devils are looking to get more out of Ryder, who has one goal in his past 24 games and five goals on the season. Havlat's addition to the line might provide more offense.
"Well I think what Marty does is he has skill and we hope he can get the puck to Michael," Lamoriello said. "The way Martin controls the puck, we try to get Michael shots. He's a goal scorer; we've got to get him shots."
Ryder's eager to see if his new linemate can have an impact.
"You know Marty's a great player. He was sick there a couple of days and then he got sick again. But he's a good player," Ryder said. "He controls the puck, makes plays. So you know I think I'll like that. I've played with him a couple times before. Marty's good at giving time for us players to get open. So me and [Zubrus] have got to do that and just read off each other. I think that's the main thing."
The Devils' game against the Bruins is the first half of a difficult back-to-back that concludes at home Friday against the New York Islanders, so they know their current uptick in performance won't mean anything if they don't continue to improve. New Jersey is nine points out of a Stanley Cup Playoffs wild-card position.
"Well, you know, we'll take it. We're happy about getting the two wins," Devils forward Patrik Elias said. "On the other hand, you know we played against Buffalo [Tuesday], who had a lot of guys hurt, out of their lineup, but we took advantage of it. I think with some of the changes we made in our systems, that the guys enjoy it. We bought into it very quickly and I think it's helping us to create a little bit more offense. Hopefully we can keep it going these next two games. It'll be tough for us. This team [the Bruins] always plays hard. And playing the Islanders, obviously we know they're playing very well too. So we'll see where we're at after these two games."
The Bruins won in overtime on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday. It was their first win in four games. They did not hold a morning skate.
Here are the projected lineups:
Adam Henrique – Scott Gomez – Jaromir Jagr
Patrik Elias – Travis Zajac – Mike Cammalleri
Martin Havlat – Dainius Zubrus – Michael Ryder
Tuomo Ruutu – Tim Sestito – Jordin Tootoo
Andy Greene – Adam Larsson
Mark Fraser – Marek Zidlicky
Seth Helgeson – Jon Merrill
Scratched: Steve Bernier
Injured: Jacob Josefson (illness), Peter Harrold (head), Bryce Salvador (lower body), Ryane Clowe (concussion), Damon Severson (ankle), Stephen Gionta (broken hand), Eric Gelinas (illness)
Brad Marchand – David Krejci – Reilly Smith
Milan Lucic – Patrice Bergeron – Daniel Paille
Chris Kelly – Carl Soderberg – Loui Eriksson
David Pastrnak – Gregory Campbell – Craig Cunningham
Zdeno Chara – Dougie Hamilton
Dennis Seidenberg – Adam McQuaid
Torey Krug – Kevan Miller
Scratched: Jordan Caron, Seth Griffith, Matt Bartkowski
Status update: Josefson skated with the Devils on Thursday but remains on injured reserve. ... Eriksson didn't play the second half of the third period or overtime Wednesday. The Bruins should have an update closer to game time. … Pastrnak, who was recalled from Providence of the American Hockey League on Tuesday, didn't play against the Penguins but should face the Devils.
Who's hot: Elias has two goals and two assists in his past two games. ... Bergeron had two goals on Wednesday and has three goals in the past two games.