Game Day Preview: Bruins at Capitals
WASHINGTON – The long five-month wait is over.
For the first time since May 6, 2018, the Boston Bruins will take to the ice for a game that counts. It may not have the same playoff-like buzz since their season-ending loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, but there’s a good deal of hype for Boston’s first matchup of the 2018-19 season with the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals.
The Bruins bring a 12-game skid against the Capitals to D.C. Their last win came in March, 2014. They would like nothing more than to end that skid and spoil the Caps’ banner night.
“I think it’s going to be a great night,” former Caps coach and current Bruins bench boss Bruce Cassidy said pregame. “This organization, Washington, has put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this championship. I’m sure they’re going to have an exciting night for their fanbase and for themselves.
“But, once the puck drops, hopefully we get some juice just from the energy in the building. The fact that it’s our first game and we struggle with Washington, we want to prove that we want to play with the best.”
Playing against the best from last year, and coming away with a victory, is one of many items the Bruins hope to check off this season.
Gametime: 7:30 p.m.
TV/Radio: NBCSN/98.5 The Sports Hub
2017-18 records: Bruins 51-21-10 (112 points), Capitals 49-26-7 (105 points)
Location: Capital One Arena
Bruins projected lines:
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk-David Krejci-Danton Heinen
Ryan Donato-Sean Kuraly-David Backes
Joakim Nordstrom-Noel Acciari-Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara-Charlie McAvoy
John Moore-Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk-Kevan Miller
Capitals projected lines:
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeni Kuznetsov-Brett Connolly
Jakub Vrana-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Andre Burakovsky-Lars Eller-Chandler Stephenson
Nathan Walker-Nic Dowd-Devante Smith-Pelly
Dmitry Orlov-Matt Niskanen
Christian Doos-John Carlson
Brooks Orpik-Madison Bowey
– The Bruins enter the season with a top-six need. Both Danton Heinen and Ryan Donato got their shots to enter that discussion in the preseason. The former, fresh off a 47-point rookie campaign (16 goals, 31 assists), will get the early second line right wing nod with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.
“[We] just want him to play his game, which is to make the plays that are available to him, compliment that line and get on the forecheck. He’s a pretty responsible player away from the puck,” Cassidy said about his expectations for Heinen with Krejci and DeBrusk. “The driver on that line should be Krech [Krejci]; he’s a veteran guy. DeBrusk will add the speed and finish on the [left] side, so Danton just has to contribute in what he does, which is a little bit of everything to be honest with you.
– This leaves Donato on the third line with Sean Kuraly and David Backes. The former Harvard standout enters his rookie season after appearing in several games late last year. His quick shot and offensive skill set should add a healthy dynamic with Kuraly and Backes, as well as the top power play unit. Skating with two players who have good chemistry should also help.
“Those guys have meshed pretty well. I feel like, for me personally, the better players I play with, the better my game gets. And I think I make them better as well,” Donato said about skating with Kuraly and Backes. “So with those two guys meshing so well, hopefully I can just add to that group.
– Urho Vaakanainen impressed the Bruins’ brass during the preseason, but a healthy Matt Grzelcyk gets the opening night nod. Grzelcyk projected to be the odd man out on the blue-line before Torey Krug’s latest ankle injury. Instead, he finds himself skating with Kevan Miller and manning the point on the top power play unit in Krug’s absence. Vaakanainen will get his chance, but Grzelcyk is the better option for now.