The Boston Bruins (44-14-12, 0-2-0 round-robin) will finish the round-robin portion of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Sunday afternoon when they take on the Washington Capitals (41-20-8, 0-1-1 round-robin). The winner of this game will finish as the third seed in the Eastern Conference. The loser? They finish fourth.
Puck drop is slated for 12:00 pm. NBCSN will carry the game nationally, while NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub have you covered in the Boston market.
A FINALLY FULL LINEUP?
Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy hasn’t had a full lineup since training camp began in July. The expectation is that he will have his full group available against the Capitals. That includes trade deadline acquisition Ondrej Kase.
“We anticipate [on Saturday] we’ll have our full group, but until we’ll just keep trying to make it work,” said Bruce Cassidy on Friday. “Obviously this whole training camp we haven’t had lines together consistently for different reasons. Will it affect us in the postseason? Time will tell.
I’d like to see our group together to see what it looks like…all together. But until that happens we’re going to fit people in together for practices and games where they can best help us and then go from there.”
On Friday, Cassidy got Kase back. On Saturday? He got to see what his group together looked like. Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Jaroslav Halak were all back on the ice for the Bruins.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Today’s game will decide who both the Bruins and Capitals play in the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The winner will be the third seed, meaning they open the playoffs against the New York Islanders. The loser? They finish fourth and will play the Carolina Hurricanes in a best-of-seven series.
The Capitals and Hurricanes played in the First Round last spring. It was a thrilling series won by the Hurricanes in overtime of Game 7. There is a budding rivalry here as well. The Bruins and Hurricanes also met, but that series was not nearly as entertaining. Instead, the Bruins put on a clinic and swept the Hurricanes to win the Eastern Conference Championship.
The winner will play the Islanders, who don’t exactly have a playoff rivalry with either of these teams. The Islanders lost in Game 7 to the Capitals in the First Round of the 2015 playoffs, but it is their only recent battle with either of these teams. In fact, the Bruins and Islanders haven’t played in the playoffs since 1983.
In the regular season, the Bruins went 2-0-1 against the Islanders and 1-0-0 against the Hurricanes.
CAPITALS LOOKING TO REBOUND
The Capitals fell 3-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers in their second round-robin game on Thursday afternoon in Toronto. It was a poor showing for a usually strong Washington team. They’ve addressed that over the last two days leading into Sunday’s tilt.
“It was definitely our worst game for our part,” Carl Hagelin told the media. “We didn’t really get to our game at all. There wasn’t as much attention to detail or attention to just working hard, so I think as a team we took a step backwards. But we’ve got a couple of days here to regroup and get ready to play Boston.”
If the Capitals are going to rebound, they will likely be doing so without Norris Trophy candidate John Carlson.
“Our goal as a defensive corps is to get the puck in our forwards’ hands,” defenseman Nick Jensen said. “We’ve got a lot of highly skilled forwards that can make plays, and we’re kind of the quarterbacks back there, and we’ve got to make sure we deliver pucks up to them quick to get the other team out of structure.
“It’s tough having one of our top defensemen out with Carlson, but we have plenty of guys who are willing to step up and hopefully fill some spots. That’s always our mindset as a [defensive] corps, it’s shutting teams down, don’t let them get into our zone, and deliver the puck to our forwards as quick as possible.”
BOSTON BRUINS LINES
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Ondrej Kase
Nick Ritchie – Charlie Coyle – Anders Bjork
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Jeremy Lauzon
Boston Bruins lines are subject to change. Karson Kuhlman rotated in with DeBrusk, while Par Lindholm rotated with Kuraly on Saturday at practice. Rask is expected to start, but Cassidy has yet to confirm who will get the nod in goal. John Moore and Connor Clifton skated as the extra defense pair on Saturday in Toronto.
WASHINGTON CAPITALS LINES
Alex Ovechkin – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana – Nicklas Backstrom – T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin – Travis Boyd – Ilya Kovalchuk
Richard Panik – Nic Dowd – Garnet Hathaway
Brendan Dillon – Dmitri Orlov
Michal Kempny – Radko Gudas
Jonas Siegenthaler – Nick Jensen
Capitals lines are subject to change. Holtby is expected to start, but head coach Todd Reirden has not confirmed that yet. Forward Lars Eller left the Toronto bubble to be with his wife for the birth of their second child on August 5th. He is currently back in Toronto but going through quarantine procedures and will not be available to play. Carlson (unfit to participate) will also not be in the lineup.