Game Day Preview: Bruins at Capitals
The Bruins’ tough four-game slate couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start after Tyler Seguin torched his former team with a hat trick in the Stars’ 5-3 victory on Tuesday night at the TD Garden.
Things don’t get easier for the Black and Gold as they hit the road for a difficult three-game trip beginning tonight in the nation’s capital. Following their matchup with the Capitals, they’ll travel to face the rival Canadiens in Montreal on Saturday before closing the slate in Brooklyn against the Islanders less than 24 hours later.
Head coach Claude Julien and company put their perfect 5-0-0 record away from Causeway Street on the line. They’ll need to find a way, however, to beat a team and a goaltender that didn’t allow a single goal to the Bruins in all three meetings last season.
Gametime: 7 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 6-4-1 (13 points), Capitals 8-3-0 (16 points)
Location: Verizon Center
Bruins projected lineup:
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Brett Connolly
Loui Eriksson-David Krejci-Alexander Khokhlachev
Matt Beleskey-Ryan Spooner-Jimmy Hayes
Max Talbot-Joonas Kemppainen-Tyler Randell
Zdeno Chara-Colin Miller
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Joe Morrow-Kevan Miller
Capitals projected lineup:
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson-Nicklas Backstrom-Justin Williams
Jason Chimera-Jay Beagle-Andre Burakovsky
Brooks Laich-Chandler Stephenson-Tom Wilson
Brooks Orpik-John Carlson
Karl Alzner-Matt Niskanen
Nate Schmidt-Dmitri Orlov
Matchup to watch: Bruins offense vs. Braden Holtby and Caps D
Today’s trivia question: when was the last time the Bruins scored a goal on Braden Holtby and the Washington Capitals? The answer is coming up.
Although Holtby has the Bruins number in his career (7-2-0, .953 save percentage and 1.58 goals against average), the Caps netminder is going up against a different looking Black and Gold squad. The B’s average of 3.82 goals per game leads the entire league, while their 42 total goals are good for third, behind Dallas (46) and Montreal (51).
The Bruins’ offense faces a big test against Holtby and a Capitals D that has allowed the least amount shots against per game (24.8) and the seventh-fewest goals (28). Also, their penalty kill, which has killed off 14 shorthanded situations in a row, has a success rate of 88.2 percent, good for seventh in the league. That will be a big test for the top-ranked B’s power play, who come with a 34.2 percent success rate.
One way or another, something will have to give when the Bruins offense faces off against a stingy Holtby and the rest of the Caps, who enter tonight’s game with a shutout streak of 186 minutes and 43 seconds vs. the Black and Gold.
That leads us to the answer to the trivia question: The last Bruin to score a goal against Holtby was Patrice Bergeron on March 29, 2014.
Storyline to watch: Can Max Talbot help fill Chris Kelly’s void?
The image of Chris Kelly going down awkwardly against the Stars Tuesday night is still fresh.
Sure, Kelly didn’t light the world on fire in the scoring department, but he contributed in a variety of ways. The 35-year old was second among Bruins forwards in shorthanded time on ice during the first month of the 2015-16 season. For a penalty kill unit that is in the bottom of the league — the same unit that allowed three power play goals against the Stars on Tuesday night — the B’s certainly could have used Kelly to help right the ship. Instead, they’ll have to depend on other players to contribute and fill Kelly’s void both on and off the ice.
Max Talbot was recalled from Providence on Wednesday, and early indications are that he’ll fill Kelly’s void on the fourth line. During his stint with the AHL Bruins, Talbot played on both the power play and the penalty kill, but Julien will likely have him play bottom six minutes and potentially some shorthanded situations.
He had a setback when he was placed on waivers before eventually being sent down to Providence. Now that he’s back in Boston, Talbot hopes to make the most of his second chance. For a young Bruins squad, they’ll need the 31-year old to provide that veteran presence and stability in the lineup.