By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter @zcarlone21
Points have been coming at a premium price for the Bruins in a stacked MassMutual East Division, and the road ahead lies no different. With a 4-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers secured on Tuesday night, the Bruins face off against the division-leading Washington Capitals tonight. Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron potted a hat-trick against the Flyers last game and will be aggressive again tonight to lead his team to the playoffs just around a month away. The puck drop for tonight’s game is scheduled for 7 pm EST.
McAvoy Remains Out
Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy was held out of the Bruins last game against the Philadelphia Flyers with an upper-body injury, and tonight he’ll remain out. The Bruins will be without their leader on the defense, along with right-handed shot Brandon Carlo, who is still recovering from an upper-body injury of his own. McAvoy has 22 points in 35 games, with a +/- of 10. He’s been amazing in the transition game, dynamically paired with Matt Grzelcyk, and his services are still going to be missed.
McAvoy has been impressive in all situations this season, but the Bruins are left without him as he gets treated back in Boston while the team is on the road. Guys like Connor Clifton and Jeremy Lauzon, who have both played poorly in recent outings, need to turn a corner and help out with their young legs. Kevan Miller returned to action last game and holds McAvoy’s spot with Grzelcyk for now. He, along with others, will be called upon to lead by example too.
The Bruins normal goaltending tandem of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak are both out due to different reasons, leaving a next-man-up mentality for the Bruins in net with two young stand-outs. Dan Vladar, 23, and Jeremy Swayman, 22, have been nothing short of spectacular filling in for the regulars, and it was Swayman who earned a 4-2 win against the Flyers last time out, stopping 40 pucks on 42 shots in his NHL debut. Tonight, it’ll be Swayman’s turn to face another dangerous offense again, this time from the Washington Capitals.
Both goalies have played extremely well for the Providence Bruins in the AHL prior to their call-ups, and their transition to the NHL has been admirable. Before his call-up, Swayman went 8-1-0 with Providence, holding a 1.89 GAA and a .933 save percentage. Those numbers are outstanding, and the Bruins defense is really going to need to help him out tonight against a Capitals team that has the firepower to break out in rhythm quickly.
Trade Deadline Preview
With the NHL Trade Deadline looming next Monday, April 12th, this game and the weekend tilts will be general manager Don Sweeney’s final look at the roster before the deadline. It’s fairly clear the Bruins aren’t strong enough, just ‘staying pat’ as they have multiple injuries still apparent as well as gaping holes on the left side of the defense and in the middle-six group of forwards. Sweeney has a few final games before deciding what he’s going to do, and the pressure is on to get the phone dialed starting tonight.
The Bruins were reportedly interested in former Devils forward Kyle Palmieri, but it was the inter-division rival New York Islanders who worked tirelessly to trade for the right-handed winger. With the Boston native off of the trade-bait board, the Bruins will have to assess their lineup starting with tonight’s game and figure out who will fit in for a hopefully long playoff run following Monday’s deadline.
Bruins Projected Lines
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Ritchie – Krejci – Pastrnak
DeBrusk – Coyle – Kuhlman
Blidh – Kuraly – Wagner
Grzelcyk – Miller
Zboril – Kampfer
Lauzon – Clifton