(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Image)

By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter @zcarlone21

The Bruins hopped back in the win column last Sunday in their latest game, a 4-1 victory visiting the Rangers in New York. Tonight, they’ll hit the ice for the first time in three days, facing up against the Washington Capitals. It’s the third time these two will meet this season and the first since February 1st. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm EST.

Grzelcyk, Krejci Return

Bruins center David Krejci and defenseman Matt Grzelcyk returned to practice in full yesterday, and both were present for the morning rushes today, signaling the two once-injured folks will be back in the lineup tonight. Krejci has missed the past four games, and Grzelcyk is expected to suit up for the seventh time this season. Grzelcyk is also expected to get to work with the top power-play unit in tonight’s game, replacing Charlie McAvoy.

This is inspiring news for the Bruins, as their lineup is arguably as strong as ever since the season began just under two months ago. Forward Ondrej Kase, defensemen Kevan Miller and Jeremy Lauzon remain out, but the Bruins lineup is fairly strong even without them.

Jarred Tinordi, whom the Bruins claimed off the waiver wire a few days ago, is also expected to play his first game tonight as a Bruin on the last pair on defense with Connor Clifton. He brings a hard-nosed, shut-down mentality to a Bruins defense that had been playing poorly before their win on Sunday.

Chara Returns to the Garden

The Bruins have already played the Capitals twice this season, winning one game and losing the other in overtime after an impressive third-period comeback. Former Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, now a Capitals defenseman, has seen plenty of his former teammates but has yet to play a game at TD Garden while dressing in the away team locker room. That all changes with tonight’s game.

It would be great to see a packed TD Garden crowd watch a tribute video made out to Chara, but fans will have to do with viewing it from home for now. Chara played in over 1,000 games with the Bruins, capturing the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman in 2009. He led the Bruins to their latest Stanley Cup victory as well in 2011. It’ll be a touching moment when we finally get to see “Big Z’ return to what he considered home for so long.

Powerhouses in the East

The Capitals sit in first place in the MassMutual East Division, and the Bruins lie two points behind them in third. Both of these teams have eyes focused on the playoffs that’ll take place in a handful of weeks. Comparing the Bruins to the Capitals is much more a chess game than a game of dodgeball. Both of these teams dominate and have not-so-noticeable flaws.

It’s fairly clear both teams have their eyes on capturing the best trophy in all of sports come summertime, which makes this such an exciting matchup. This game is going to have a playoff atmosphere brought along with it. With all the firepower these sides are going to bring us; however, both are dealing with some minor hits of their own, as most good teams do. Even so, this game is due to bring some intensity with it.

Bruins Projected Lineup

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Ritchie – Krejci – DeBrusk

Frederic – Coyle – Smith

Kuraly – Studnicka – Wagner

Zboril – McAvoy

Grzelcyk – Carlo

Tinordi – Clifton