The Boston Bruins (12-5-3, 27 pts .675 %) host the Washington Capitals (13-5-4, 30 pts, .682 %) in the final game of their two-game set at TD Garden tonight (7 PM ET, NESN, NBCSWA, NHLN, TVAS, SN).
The Bruins will try and bounce back and not just keep pace with the first-place Capitals, who beat them 2-1 in a shootout Wednesday night at the Garden, but also the New York Islanders (13-6-4, 30 pts, .652 %) who are tied with the Caps for first place in the East Division and the Philadelphia Flyers (12-5-3, 27 pts, .675 %) who are tied for second with the B’s. The Pittsburgh Penguins (12-9-1, 25 pts, .568 %) have been wildly inconsistent but they’re also within striking distance of the Bruins and Flyers.
For the Bruins to start gaining consistent points again, they’re going to need to pick up the pace on the ice.
“I think we’re not playing at a high enough pace. If there was an easy answer, I’d give it to you,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said following the shootout loss Wednesday. “Some of it is personnel we’ve changed. So, we’ve got to them playing to a higher pace that we’re used to. We’ve got some new people in our lineup.
Some of it is that we’ve emphasized getting a little bigger and maybe you lose some of that pace. Some of it is just our play that I haven’t stressed this enough. You’re trying to adjust for opponents every night and trying to do certain things, and maybe you lose track of the forest through the trees sometimes. You just say ‘Hey, let’s get going and simplify and get on top of them quicker.’ I think it’s a little bit of everything.”
The Boston Bruins are now 1-0-2 against the Capitals this season. In addition to Wednesday’s tilt, they also split a two-game set in Washington DC on January 30 and February 1 with the Bruins staging two third period comebacks. The Bruins 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.
After cooking dinner in the head of Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin so much that the superstar winger speared him in the groin, will Trent Frederic have to face retribution tonight? Remember, earlier this season, the Boston Bruins rookie forward went toe-to-toe with Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson, who many consider the toughest guy in the NHL. Will Wilson come knocking early tonight to make it clear Ovechkin is off-limits for Frederic?
Jaro Halak (4-2-1, 2.42, .903 save percentage will be back between the pipes for the Boston Bruins for the first time since allowing seven goals on 37 shots in a 7-2 loss to the Islanders on Feb.25. The Caps will once again start rookie Vitek Vanecek (10-4-3, 2.69 GAA, .910 save percentage).
– Bruins center Charlie Coyle returned from the COVID-19 protocol list.
-Defenseman Kevan Miller (knee) is still day-to-day and defenseman Jeremy Lauzon (broken hand) is out for at least another three weeks. Forward Ondrej Kase (upper-body) is on injured reserve.
-After he was named NHL East Division Star of The Month for February on Monday, David Pastrnak satyed hot on Wednesday as he scored his tenth goal of the season and the lone Bruins goal. After missing the first seven games of the season, the Bruins superstar winger has 10 goals and nine assists in 13 games and he’s registered two hat tricks so far.
– The Bruins went 0-for-2 on the powerplay Wednesday and are now 15-for-58 on the man advantage this season. They’re ninth in the NHL with a 25.9 percent success rate.
-The Boston Bruins penalty killed off both Capitals powerplays Wednesday. The Bruins have now killed off 60 of 68 powerplay attempts against them. Their 88.2 percent success rate is fourth in the NHL.
-Center Nicklas Backstrom leads the Capitals in goals (10), assists (15), and points with 25. Alexander Ovechkin, Jakub Vrana – who scored the shootout winner Wednesday 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.
-The Capitals are 16-for-57 on the powerplay. They’re scoring at a 28.1 percent clip which is fifth in the NHL.
-The Capitals have only allowed 14 powerplay goals on 72 powerplay attempts against. They’re killing off powerplays at an 80.6 percent clip and are ranked 13th in the NHL.
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Nick Ritchie – David Krejci – Jake DeBrusk
Trent Frederic – Charlie Coyle – Craig Smith
Anders Bjork – Jack Studnicka – 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