Here's your Bruins-Devils preview as Boston takes on New Jersey at TD Garden on a 16-game streak with at least one point.
The Bruins last went without a point on Dec. 14, a road regulation loss to the Washington Capitals. But they're 12-0-4 in 16 games since, sporting an incredible plus-35 goal differential over the streak. Oh, and that's the best mark in the NHL over that stretch.
However, the Bruins have one of the biggest challenges of the season ahead of them for the next two weeks. They're without rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who underwent a heart procedure at Mass. General on Monday. The team announced that he needs to rest at least two weeks as a result of his procedure, known as an "ablation."
Despite concerns surrounding McAvoy's heart procedure, head coach Bruce Cassidy sounded quite optimistic. He told reporters after Tuesday's practice that "everything went well" with McAvoy's procedure and he's already released from the hospital. Now, the focus is looking to the future as he rests ahead of his recovery.
"His health is our No. 1 priority," said Cassidy of McAvoy. "He's doing terrific and we'll see how he recovers from there."
The Bruins aren't the only team missing a key player in Tuesday's game. Devils winger Taylor Hall is out against the B's with a hand injury. Albeit the injury is minor in nature, it's enough to keep Hall off the ice in Boston.
Bruins-Devils: By The Numbers
-- Hall is enjoying one of the best seasons of his career at age 26. The No. 1 overall draft pick in 2010 (one spot ahead of Tyler Seguin) leads the Devils with 17 goals and 48 points in 43 games this season. He's on pace for 87 points, which would set a new career-high for him (he scored 80 points in 2013-14).
-- Despite being a 20-year-old rookie, McAvoy's mere presence is a huge hole to fill. He's second among all Bruins skaters with 22:49 average ice time. He's also second among Bruins defensemen in average power play ice time (2:04), behind only Torey Krug's 3:25. Most impressively, McAvoy leads the team with 20:00 average ice time at even strength.
-- Even though they sport the fifth-best record in the Eastern Conference, the Devils (24-14-8) have the second-worst goal differential (plus-2) of the top-eight teams. And it's way, way behind the Bruins' plus-38.
-- Tuukka Rask starts in goal for the Bruins on Tuesday. Despite allowing six goals against the Penguins on Jan. 7, Rask is 9-0-1 in his last 10 starts with a 1.67 goals against average and .938 save percentage.
Bruins-Devils: What To Expect
Despite losing McAvoy, odds are the Bruins can keep their streak going against the Devils. New Jersey is 2-5-3 in its last 10 games and playing without Hall certainly won't help that. They're also coming off a home loss to the Detroit Red Wings, a 3-0 shutout on Monday night. Prediction: Bruins 3, Devils 1
-- By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].