Zdeno Chara returns to Boston as an opponent for the first time since the 2005-06 season as the red-hot and first-place Washington Capitals (12-5-4, 28 pts, .667 %) begin a two-game set with the Boston Bruins (12-5-2, 26 pts .684 %).
The Capitals – and the New York Islanders (12-6-4, 28 pts .636%) have roared past the Bruins in the East Division standings over the past ten days as they carry a three-game win streak into tonight’s tilt and have gone 4-0-1 in their last five games. Meanwhile, the Bruins are coming off a 4-1 gut-check win over the New York Rangers Sunday that snapped a two-game skid in which they were outscored 13-4 by the Islanders and Rangers last Thursday and Friday. Prior to the win Sunday, the Bruins were on a 1-4-0 stretch.
The Boston Bruins and the Capitals split a two-game set in Washington DC on January 30 and February 1 with the Bruins staging two third period comebacks. They fell just short in a 4-3 overtime loss and then bounced back and completed the comeback with a 5-3 win on February 1.
Sadly for Chara, the Bruins, and their fans, there will be no one in the stands at TD Garden tonight and there won’t be what would’ve likely been a welcome back ovation similar to the one that Chara received prior to playing in Game 5 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final after breaking his jaw in Game 4.
Tuukka Rask (8-3-1, 2.71 GAA, .896 save percentage) is expected to be back between the pipes for the Boston Bruins and the Caps will start rookie Vitek Vanecek (943, 2.81 GAA, .909 save percentage).
– The Boston Bruins will get some much-needed reinforcements tonight. Defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (lower-body) and center David Krejci (lower-body) will be back in the lineup. Newly acquired defenseman Jarred Tinordi will also make his Boston Bruins debut on the third D pairing with Connor Clifton.
– Unfortunately just as they get healthy bodies back they lose Charlie Coyle to COVID-19 protocol as he’ll be sitting out Wednesday night’s game vs. the Capitals coming off a two-goal performance last weekend in New York. With Coyle out, Jack Studnicka slides into the third line center spot and Anders Bjork draws back into the lineup on the fourth line.
Charlie Coyle will not play in tonight’s game (COVID-19 protocols). #NHLBruins
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) March 3, 2021
-Defenseman Kevan Miller (knee) is still day-to-day. Defenseman Jeremy Lauzon (broken hand) is out for at least another three weeks. Forward Ondrej Kase (upper-body) is on injured reserve.
-David Pastrnak was named NHL East Division Star of The Month this week. After missing the first seven games of the season, Pastrnak has been en fuego! The Bruins superstar winger has nine goals and nine assists in 12 games and he’s registered two hat tricks so far.
– The Bruins went 0-for-1 on the powerplay in the 4-1 win over the Rangers Sunday and are now 15-for-56 on the man advantage this season. They’re sixth in the NHL with a 26.8 percent success rate.
-The Boston Bruins penalty killed off three of all three Rangers’ powerplays Sunday. The Bruins have now killed off 58 of 66 powerplay attempts against them. Their 87.9 percent success rate is third in the NHL.
-Center Nicklas Backstrom leads the Capitals in goals (10), assists (15), and points with 25. Alexander Ovechkin and Tom Wilson are second in scoring with seven goals each.
-Defenseman John Carlson leads all Capitals defensemen in goals (5), assists (14), and points with 19.
-Chara is averaging 21:09 per game and has two goals and four assists in 21 games. He’s also a plus 10.
-The Capitals are 16-for-55 on the powerplay. They’re scoring at a 29.1 percent clip which is fifth in the NHL.
-The Capitals have only allowed 14 powerplay goals on 70 powerplay attempts against. They’re killing off powerplays at an 80 percent clip and are ranked 15th in the NHL.
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Nick Ritchie – David Krejci – Jake DeBrusk
Trent Frederic – Jack Studnicka – Craig Smith
Anders Bjork – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Jakub Zboril – Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk – Brandon Carlo
Jarred Tinordi – Connor Clifton
Washington Capitals Lines
Alex Ovechkin – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Conor Sheary
Jakub Vrana – Nicklas Backstrom – Tom Wilson
Richard Panik – Lars Eller – T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin – Nic Dowd – Garnet Hathaway
Brenden Dillon – John Carlson
Dmitri Orlov – Justin Schultz
Zdeno Chara – Nick Jensen