Bruins vs. Devils Preview
NEWARK, NJ (AP) - The Boston Bruins are locked into the third seed in the Eastern Conference, and will face Montreal in the first round. All that's left is a chance to sweep the season series from the New Jersey Devils for the first time in 25 years.View Current Boston Bruins Odds
Boston visits New Jersey on Sunday looking for its fifth straight win over the Devils.
The Bruins (46-24-11) have clinched their third straight Northeast Division title and will open the playoffs at TD Garden. Tim Thomas is perhaps the biggest reason for that.
According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGLOBAL.com have made the Bruins -110 money line favorites for Sunday's game against the Devils. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 53% of more than 191 bets for this game have been placed on the Bruins -110.
Thomas stopped 31 shots in a 3-1 victory over Ottawa on Saturday, improving his save percentage to .938, which would break Dominik Hasek's NHL record of .937 set in 1998-99.
Coach Claude Julien said Tuukka Rask will start against the Devils, and Thomas seems unlikely to play unless Rask is injured.
"To be completely honest, I had a hard time getting it completely out of my mind the last couple of days,'' Thomas said of the save percentage mark. ``I think it's the most reflective overall (of a goaltender's season), but certainly not a perfect number. But overall it's still the most important number.''
Nathan Horton, Daniel Paille and Rich Peverley scored Saturday as Boston won for the seventh time in 10 games.
Thomas is 3-0-0 with a 0.67 goals-against average against New Jersey this season, but it will be Rask who will try to help complete the rare sweep.
Boston hasn't done that since winning all three matchups in 1985-86. Rask has gone 1-0-2 with a 0.69 GAA and one shutout in his career against New Jersey.
The Devils (37-39-5), who will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1995-96, will try to end the season on a high note after falling 5-2 to the New York Rangers on Saturday.
Martin Brodeur made 24 saves as he lost for the fourth time in seven starts. He has gone 0-3-0 with a 3.34 GAA against the Bruins this season.
``We're going to go home regardless of this,'' said Brodeur, who had posted a 1.70 GAA in his previous seven games. ``This is disappointing for our fans."
Ilya Kovalchuk, who scored his 31st goal, will almost certainly finish with his lowest total since scoring 29 as a rookie in 2001-02. The right wing came into 2010-11 with six straight seasons of at least 41 goals.
New Jersey took a pair of one-goal leads in the first period against New York but dropped to 4-7-1 since a 23-3-2 stretch.
``When we were in the game, the enthusiasm of the players, the excitement, the drive was there,'' Brodeur said. ``Whenever they scored that fourth goal, it seemed that we just kind of quit a little bit.''
The Bruins have won the last two meetings in New Jersey, outscoring the Devils 5-1 in those games.