WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Bruins are gearing up for the postseason - and on Tuesday night, that means many of the club's regulars will be sitting out the regular-season finale against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena. With nothing on the line in the standings after clinching the third seed in the East Division with Monday's win over the Islanders, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy is opting for a cautious approach against the B's first-round opponent.
Boston will be without Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, Taylor Hall, David Krejci, Craig Smith, Sean Kuraly, Charlie Coyle, Matt Grzelcyk, Charlie McAvoy, Mike Reilly, Brandon Carlo, Jeremy Lauzon, Kevan Miller, and Tuukka Rask.
With so many of the Bruins' stalwarts sitting out, the club will use the game as an opportunity to evaluate some of its depth, including youngsters Jack Studnicka, Zach Senyshyn, and Oskar Steen.
"We are basically a little banged up, so we're going to use that opportunity to give guys maintenance days," said Cassidy. "Other guys are in the lineup to maybe show what our fourth line looks like in this particular environment. Who are the depth guys, who comes in first, second, third at each position? So, you get another look at them, guys that you haven't seen in a while, like a Steen, a Senyshyn, that were here. We got healthy so they got pushed out.
"Studs is another guy that hasn't been here in a while, so how has the time in Providence benefitted him? There are some guys in that list that have played here that we may or may not use as the playoffs go on. If we get where we want to go - we've learned from past experience - that you will need to reach down into your lineup.
"This is a viewing for them, an opportunity for them to show us. And that's what we're here to do, and in the meantime, win a hockey game."
Ondrej Kase will also sit out after leaving Monday night's game with what was termed as an upper-body injury. The winger's return to the lineup after four months with a concussion lasted merely two periods, though Cassidy said on Tuesday morning that his departure was unrelated to his previous injury and is likely more of a conditioning issue.
"It had been his first game in a long time, so I was told he just didn't feel like he was getting through it at where he needed to be," said Cassidy. "So, the training staff, they decided to say, 'OK, let's cut it short tonight and we'll see where it ends up.'
"Obviously, he's not going to play tonight. We'll have a better assessment, Wednesday's a day off for everybody. He'll be in to see the trainers, so we'll probably have a much better idea either Wednesday or Thursday of how he came out of it."
The Bruins will return home to Boston following the game against the Capitals and take a day off on Wednesday, before returning to Warrior Ice Arena for practices on Thursday and Friday in preparation of Game 1 on Saturday night back in the nation's capital.
"[Wednesday], everyone's off," said Cassidy. "I just feel that after the amount of time we've spent at the rink playing and the energy expended to play well... it's good to have an also mental break, too. I think we can get in the rink Thursday, start our conversations about Washington tendencies, build those into practice, get our lights back under us. Friday, drill down a little more. I know that Saturday we're starting.
"I think we have enough time. I was happy to hear we weren't starting right away, it was going to be Saturday, and even Sunday would have been fine for us. I think after that, now you're getting a little bit too long, now guys are hungry and they want to get going.
"I think it's a good starting date for us would have been the weekend, and obviously it's Saturday night."
The Capitals will also be without some of their stars with T.J. Oshie and John Carlson both out with lower-body injuries. Alex Ovechkin, also dealing with a lower-body ailment, is a game-time decision. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilya Samsonov remain in COVID protocol.
Vitek Vanecek will start in goal.
By The Numbers
- The Bruins and Capitals are meeting for the 171st time in their histories with the Bruins having an 82-54-21-13 record and 546-483 scoring advantage in those games.
- The Bruins are 38-27-12-8 vs. the Capitals all-time on the road with a 267-250 scoring edge in those 85 contests.
- The Bruins are 6-1-3 in their last 10 games vs. Washington following an 0-11-3 stretch in their previous 14 games from Oct. 11, 2014 to Jan. 10, 2019. They are 5-6-5 in their last 16 road games vs. the Capitals.
- The Bruins are 4-1-2 vs. the Capitals in this season's series so far with a 4-3 OT loss in Washington on Jan. 30, a 5-3 road win on Feb. 1, a 2-1 shootout setback in Boston on March 3, a 5-1 home win on March 5, a 4-2 road victory on April 8, an 8-1 home loss on April 11, and a 6-3 home win on April 18.