The Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals know each other well ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup First Round at Capital One Arena on Saturday.
Boston and Washington played eight games during the regular season in the MassMutual East Division, each team winning four. Defender Zdeno Chara played 14 seasons for the Bruins before signing with the Capitals as an unrestricted free agent on Dec. 30.
âObviously playing for this coaching staff for as long as Zdeno has been and playing with the players he has for his tenure here in Boston, you certainly know some trends,â said the Bruins president. Cam Neely. “The guys are aware of that. But also, on the other hand, the guys certainly know how Zdeno is going to play and what to expect from him and maybe how to exploit him a little too.”
Chara downplayed the inside information he could bring.
âPlaying them eight times during the regular season probably gives coaches enough information,â he said.
Although Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said Chara could be “a good resource,” he agreed the teams know almost everything about each other.
âThere is a lot of information that we already have on them that they have about us,â Laviolette said. “I don’t think there are a lot of surprises about it. I still think the way this is decided is on the ice with the execution and level of play of the team.”
Washington (36-15-5) was second in the East and Boston (33-16-7) third. Each team has won twice at home and twice on the road in the regular season series. The Bruins beat the Capitals 26-24.
The teams that win Game 1 are 490-222 (68.8 percent) winning an NHL best-of-7 playoff series, including 7-1 in the first round last season.
Here are 3 keys for game 1:
1. Carlson returns, Oshie decision at time of match, Kuznetsov remains out
Defender John carlson will play for Washington after missing the last two games of the regular season with a lower-body injury, and the forward TJ Oshie will be a game time decision after missing the regular season finale against Boston on Tuesday with a lower body injury.
Center Evgeny Kuznetsov remains in NHL COVID-19 protocol, and goalie Ilya Samsonov was deleted on Saturday. It’s unclear when either will be available to play. Attackers Alex ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom each returned from a lower body injury on Tuesday.
âYou see a lot of guys on the ice, a lot of guys who were moved into the roster for a reason and they’re back,â said Laviolette. “So it’s a real advantage for our group.”
2. Bruins improved scoring depth
Boston’s first line Brad Marchand (seven goals, six assists), Patrice Bergeron (three goals, six assists) and David Pastrnak (three goals, five assists) combined to score 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in seven games against Washington before coming to rest for their final regular season game.
The Bruins acquired the forward Taylor hall in a trade with the Buffalo Sabers on April 12 and formed a powerful second row with David Krejci and Craig smith. In 16 regular season games since the trade, Hall (eight goals, six assists), Krejci (six goals, 15 assists) and Smith (five goals, five assists) combined to score 45 points (19 goals, 26 assists) ).
âFor the opposition it’s a harder call now on who you’re going to deploy your best controllers,â Cassidy said. “Are things going at Bergeron (line) or Krejci?”
3. Rask vs. Vanecek
The Bruins have a clear advantage in the goaltending experience with Tuukka Rask being the veteran of 93 NHL playoff starts (51-42, 2.20 goals against average, .926 save percentage, seven shutouts), including the Stanley Cup Final in 2013 and 2019 . The expected starter of the Capitals, Vitek Vanecek, will make his NHL playoff debut after leading the rookies in wins (21-10-4) with a 2.69 GAA, .908 save percentage and two shutouts in 37 games (36 departures) during the regular season.
âAt first I felt like a rookie, I was getting new things, I was learning the NHL,â said Vanecek. “But then I [started] as I played more and more games, I didn’t feel like a rookie anymore. I felt like I had always been here. “
Vanecek was 4-3-0 with a 2.86 GAA and .905 save percentage against the Bruins in the regular season. Although Rask has four wins in 23 games against the Capitals (4-11-7, 3.03 GAA, .894 save percentage, two shutouts), he is 2-0-2 with a 2.70 GAA and a save percentage. ‘.913 judgment against them in the past. two seasons.
The Bruins’ planned programming
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Taylor Hall – David Krejci – Craig Smith
Nick ritchie – Sean kuraly – Charlie coyle
Jake DeBrusk – Curtis Lazar – Chris Wagner
Matt grzelcyk – Charlie mcavoy
Mike reilly – Brandon carlo
Jeremy Lauzon – Kevan miller
Striped: Anton Blidh, Trent FrÃ©dÃ©ric, Karson kuhlman, Jack Achan, Stevan Kampfer, John moore, Jarred Tinordi, Urho Vaakanainen, Connor clifton, Booth callum, Jaroslav halak, Dan Vladar
Injured: Ondrej Kase (upper body), Jakub zboril (upper body)
Projected programming of the Capitals
Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Anthony mantha
Conor Sheary – Lars Eller – Michael raffl
Daniel Sprong – TJ Oshie – Tom wilson
Carl Hagelin – Nic dowd – Hathaway Garnet
Dmitry Orlov – John Carlson
Brenden Dillon – Justin schultz
Nick jensen – Zdeno Chara
Striped: Philippe Maillet, Garrett pilon, Martin Fehervary, Trevor van Riemsdyk , Pheonix Copley, Ilya Samsonov
COVID-19 Protocol: Evgeny Kuznetsov
Coyle, who has missed the last four games with an upper body injury, and Miller, who missed practice Friday (maintenance), are expected to play. â¦ Zboril, a defenseman, left a 2-1 loss to the Capitals on Tuesday. … Samsonov, a goalkeeper, was removed from the COVID-19 protocol on Saturday. â¦ Kase, a forward, did not play in the third period of a 3-2 overtime win over the Islanders on Monday and did not play on Tuesday.