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Pregame vs Caps: Battle for Roster Spots Heating Up; Rask Likely to Play Full 60

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MA - We're four games into the preseason, with the fifth on tap tonight at TD Garden, as the Bruins host the Washington Capitals at 7 p.m. (ET).

In preparation, the group of B's playing tonight hit the ice for a morning skate, with the second group of skaters following up with a tough hour-long session.

The last time out against the Caps, the Bruins took the 3-2 shootout win at Baltimore Arena, thanks to Carter Camper's goal in the eighth round of the shootout, and goals from Chris Kelly and Justin Florek.

The B's will be icing a more veteran lineup this time around, especially on the back end, with Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid all in the lineup, joined by Matt Bartkowski and Kevan Miller (the pair served as a solid pairing in Providence last season).

The Bruins' lineup will once again feature a host of young forwards vying for spots on the opening night roster with Boston. Four B's in the group are already playing in their fourth game, including Nick Johnson - whose three goals are tied with Iginla for first on the team in scoring - Jordan Caron, Ryan Spooner and Carl Söderberg.

The Caps will be icing a lineup without Alexander Ovechkin, and one that will feature a young group of blueliners.

But, this time of year, a record (even though the B's are 3-1) is not important, and match-ups don't necessarily matter, as we saw when the lineups were mismatched against Detroit at TD Garden (an 8-2 loss the result).

"Well that’s just it - I’m not worried about our record in preseason; I’m worried about the evaluation part," Julien said following the team's pregame skate Monday. "And that’s why you have to see some of those guys that are fighting for jobs and that are trying to make an impression and you give them the opportunity."

"We’ve got some guys that we know are here, and you just want to fine-tune those guys and that’s what we’re doing with a lot of our stable veterans. Right now it’s about having a closer look at these guys and in order to do that you have to give them their chance and they need to play those games in order for us to get a good read on them and for them being able to say they got an opportunity."

"It keeps everyone fresh knowing there’s jobs on the line," said Daniel Paille of the energy of the young competitors. "So I think you get the best out of everyone when they play and it’s definitely a good trend to have for every player to bring."

In addition to the young forwards skating tonight, the Milan Lucic-David Krejc-Jarome Iginla line will get another showing at TD Garden, and Loui Eriksson will have to wait for his home debut.

"I watched the game against Detroit here, you see it's a lot of fans here, a really cool building to play in and I didn't play that game but it was just good for me, sitting up there, watching and the game and see all of the fans cheering," said Eriksson of the Garden experience.

"I'm really looking forward to that," he eagerly added, awaiting the October 3 home opener. "It's been a long summer; [I'll have to] wait until the next game in the regular season, will be much more fun to do that."

Projected Lines

Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla
Jordan Caron-Ryan Spooner-Nick Johnson
Carl Söderberg-Chris Kelly-Reilly Smith
Daniel Paille-Matt Lindblad-Shawn Thornton

D: Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Dennis Seidenberg, Adam McQuaid, Matt Bartkowski, Kevan Miller

G: Tuukka Rask, Niklas Svedberg

Julien said on Sunday that his goal was to get every goaltender a full game between the pipes, but didn't specify Monday night's starter. Tuukka Rask was the first off the ice at morning skate, indicating that he can be expected to start tonight and get his full 60.

Soderberg-Kelly-Smith Forming Chemistry

Chris Kelly and Reilly Smith have been skating together throughout much of training camp. Julien added Carl Soderberg into the mix on the left wing for Saturday night's game in Detroit, and the forward notched two goals (one on the power play), and the trio will get to skate together again vs Washington.

"A little bit of everything," Julien said, of what he thinks the line brings. "I think Carl [Söderberg] being able to adjust from center to the wing, and Kells [Chris Kelly] is skating much better and [Reilly] Smith is a guy that’s got some grit we have to have a good look at, and he’s played most of the season last year in Dallas so we’re just trying to assess what that could look like."

"So I didn’t mind - obviously that line they scored that goal five on five and Carl scored the power play goal - so that line did its job and I thought at both ends of the ice they were good."

Julien said he'll likely be slotting in Soderberg at center for the two games after tonight, following the experiment with him on the wing. He likes what he's seen so far, but wants to exercise all options for evaluation.

"You have to find out not only whether he can play the wing but also how you feel about him when he’s in the middle if there’s some injuries and you have to move guys around this is the time to work or find out about these things."

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