The Boston Bruins (22-12-2, 46 pts) will look to start a new winning streak against the Washington Capitals on Thursday night (7 pm, ESPN+, NBCWash) after having their six-game winning streak snapped in a blowout loss to the Hurricanes.
The Bruins have lost just two games during the month of January and have pushed their way up the Atlantic Division standings with a five-point playoff cushion ahead of the Detroit Red Wings. But they’ve also lost twice badly to the Carolina Hurricanes while being outscored by a 10-1 margin this season and brought zero to the table in Tuesday night’s loss. They’re simply looking to rebound from an embarrassing no-show performance in a 7-1 loss and keep the high level of play that’s going on since the break.
“Execution and pace is the first thing you are looking for after a night like [Tuesday] night,” said Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron after Wednesday’s practice. “Obviously make sure you have the energy up…at times you have to flush it out and look at what you have to do better.”
Linus Ullmark (13-5-0, 2.52 goals against average and .917 save percentage) will get the start for the Bruins after playing the final 40 minutes of Tuesday night’s blowout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes and stopping 20-of-22 shots.
Vitek Vanecek gets the starting nod for the Capitals in Boston and has an 8-4-5 record with a 2.49 goals against average and a .911 save percentage in 19 games for Washington this season.
Boston Bruins Notes
-The Bruins have lost just two games during the month of January and have benefitted greatly from hot streaks for Brad Marchand (nine goals and 16 points in 10 games) and David Pastrnak (eight goals and 11 points in 10 games) during that time.
-Defenseman Mike Reilly was placed into the NHL’s COVID protocol on Tuesday ahead of the loss to the Hurricanes and will miss Thursday’s game against the Capitals.
-Bruins defenseman John Moore is still day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Forward Nick Foligno (lower-body) got better news than expected from his MRI last Tuesday and is a game time decision after skating on Wednesday. Forward Trent Frederic (upper-body) is also out again tonight and there is no timetable for his return. Defenseman Jakub Zboril is out for the season after successful surgery for a torn ACL last month.
–If Nick Foligno indeed does play as expected on Thursday vs. Washington then rookie Oskar Steen will be the scratch after finishing with a minus-3 and zero shots on net in Tuesday’s loss to Carolina.
Washington Capitals Notes
-The Capitals are 2-3-2 in seven games during the month of January and have been a bit of a trainwreck defensively with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov combing for a minus-10 in January. Ovechkin still has three goals this month and Kuznetsov has six points to lead all Washington scorers, but their quality of play has taken a big downturn.
-Michael Kempny and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby are both expected to play tonight in Boston are being called up from the taxi squad. TJ Oshie was placed on injured reserve in order to help create roster space to make that happen. The undermanned Capitals will also be without defenseman Dmitry Orlov, who is serving a two-game suspension.
-This will be the only trip to Boston this season for the Washington Capitals amidst the oft-times strange NHL compacted regular season schedule.
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Craig Smith
Taylor Hall – Erik Haula – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – Charlie Coyle – Nick Foligno
Anton Blidh – Tomas Nosek – Curtis Lazar
Matt Grzelcyk – Charlie McAvoy
Urho Vaakanainen – Brandon Carlo
Derek Forbort – Connor Clifton
Washington Capitals Lines:
Alex Ovechkin–Evgeny Kuznetsov–Garnet Hathaway
Aliaksei Protas–Nicklas Backstrom–Tom Wilson
Axel Jonsson-Fjallby–Lars Eller–Connor McMichael
Carl Hagelin–Nic Dowd–Brett Leason
Martin Fehervary–Nick Jensen
Matt Irwin–Justin Schultz
Michal Kempny–Trevor Van Riemsdyk