Well, if there is anything the meaningless 2-1 loss the Boston Bruins suffered to the Washington Capitals in their regular-season finale Tuesday in the nation’s Capital should tell you, it’s that their first-round series with the Caps that starts Saturday (7:15 PM ET, NBC) at Capital One Arena is going to be a lot closer than the folks in Vegas think.
As of Thursday night at 10 PM ET, the Boston Bruins were 13-1 to win the Stanley Cup and the Capitals were 11-1. While the Bruins may be underdogs in Las Vegas for their first-round series against the Caps, at this moment they are in better form than the team money says will send them golfing in two weeks. Basically, the Providence Bruins came within a Michel Raffl fluke pinball shot off Jeremy Swayman with three ticks left in regulation to a stacked Capitals squad that included Captain Alexander Ovechkin. Ovechkin reeled off four shots but was held off the scoresheet in 20 shifts and 19 minutes played as Swayman was once again another chapter in what is becoming one of the NHL’s most surprising stories from what was the most bizarre regular season this puck scribe ever covered.
Curtis Lazar scored the lone goal for the Boston Bruins 10:11 into the second period and then Caps forward Carl Hagelin tied it at 16:15. Jake DeBrusk had another great game grabbing the secondary assist on the Lazar goal. Jarred Tinordi returned the lineup for the first time since April 18, when Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway took him out with a borderline hit. Tinordi grabbed the primary helper on Lazar’s goal and Hathaway had the primary on Hagelin’s.
GOLD STAR: Jeremy Swayman. The 22-year-old rookie rolled on with his marvelous start to his NHL career Tuesday turning away 30 of the Caps’ 32 shots on net. He stoned Hagelin on a shorthanded breakaway in the first period and was not to blame for the one in a million Raffl game-winner. Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed after the game that Swayman, as expected, will be Tuukka Rask’s back-up to begin the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Bruce Cassidy confirms rookie Jeremy Swayman will back up Tuukka Rask to start the playoffs: "I thought Swayman grabbed the ball and ran with it. That last one tonight went off his head and in. That probably happens once a year"
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) May 12, 2021
BLACK EYE: Playing this game. Shame on the NHL for not continuing what they did as they have navigated through the pandemic and putting player safety and mental health first and shame on NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr for not making it clearer what the players were about to embark on as we entered the New Year. Only someone who equated the flu to COVID could not see the major hiccups and burps the NHL and the players would experience. To not put any clauses in the CBA and game plan was absolutely asinine and not only risked the health of these athletes but took away from the integrity of the game.
TURNING POINT: Michael Raffl game-winner. Video says it all.
What a first goal in red for Raffl🚁! pic.twitter.com/x5ModpcKCt
— x – Washington Capitals (@Capitals) May 12, 2021
HONORABLE MENTION: The interim first line. In what would normally be a pretty damn good energy line, Jake DeBrusk, Lazar and Chris Wagner formed the makeshift and interim first line Tuesday and showed that if Cassidy needs to turn to this trio as one he thinks can turn the momentum in a game or series, they will be ready.
Jarred Tinordi feeds Curtis Lazar in front.
1-0 Bruins. pic.twitter.com/QeC4cU6j58
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) May 12, 2021
BY THE NUMBERS: 16 – The number of regulars the Boston Bruins sat out for this meaningless game to prevent any injuries for the playoffs. The Bruins held out 80 percent and $65 million of salary-cap space for this game.
From my partner-in-crime, Joe Haggerty, who painted the scene perfectly in the BHN Game Day Preview:
The Bruins inactive list for tonight is impressive: Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, David Krejci, Taylor Hall, Craig Smith, Sean Kuraly, Charlie Coyle, Ondrej Kase, Tuukka Rask, Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, Mike Reilly, Brandon Carlo, Jeremy Lauzon, and Kevan Miller. On the plus side, it means that Boston Bruins fans will get a chance to see some of the organization’s young prospects like Jack Studnicka, Urho Vaakanainen, and Oskar Steen one more time prior to the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs:
‘The Bruins inactive list for tonight is impressive: Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, David Krejci, Taylor Hall, Craig Smith, Sean Kuraly, Charlie Coyle, Ondrej Kase, Tuukka Rask, Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, Mike Reilly, Brandon Carlo, Jeremy Lauzon, and Kevan Miller. On the plus side, it means that Boston Bruins fans will get a chance to see some of the organization’s young prospects like Jack Studnicka, Urho Vaakanainen, and Oskar Steen one more time prior to the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs.’
This is what the Bruins lineup looked like Tuesday night:
QUOTE TO NOTE: “I didn’t know 60 percent of them before tonight.” – Boston Bruins forward Curtis Lazar on playing with so many AHL call-ups after becoming a Bruin on April 12.