By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter! @zcarlone21
The effort from the Bruins in game one of the first-round matchup against the Washington Capitals really did not get reflected in the score, as the Bruins dropped the game in overtime. The effort wasn’t there, even when the Capitals put in soon-to-be 40-year-old goaltender Craig Anderson in net, who hasn’t participated in a playoff game since 2017. Capitals goaltender Vita Vanecek left game one with a lower-body injury, paving the way for Anderson to start again tonight. The Bruins need to apply the pressure this evening in Washington. The puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 pm EST.
First Line Shut Down
During the regular season, the trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak combined for 72 goals and 165 points, with no one player finishing with less than 48 points. Marchand finished the regular season in third place league-wide for points with 69. Patrice Bergeron finished tied for seventh league-wide in +/- throughout the regular season, finishing with 27. These stats show how dominant the Bruins first line was during regular season play, but they got shut down as soon as game one of the playoffs hit.
Despite the Bruins scoring three goals in Saturday’s loss, the Bruins first line combined for one assist thanks to Pastrnak’s primary assist on Nick Ritchie’s tally. As a group, they only combined for seven shots, with six coming from Pastrnak, one from Marchand, and a goose egg on the shot board from Bergeron. This line is going to need to solve their defensive matchups from the Capitals stingy defense, and once they do, the flood gates will open. It’s time for them to turn it around after a bad showing Saturday night.
Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton is expected to play his first game of these playoffs after sitting out game one. The Bruins depth on defense with everyone healthy is a strength compared to their opponents on the Eastern side of the playoff picture, and tonight they’ll be testing that depth yet again. Jeremy Lauzon is expected to come out, paving the way for Clifton to be paired with Kevan Miller on the bottom pair. Lauzon has spent much of the season playing with either Charlie McAvoy or on the bottom pair, and his inconsistent play in game one is making him watch from the press box tonight.
In the regular season, Clifton collected six assists and seven points in 44 contests with a +/- of 10. He doesn’t bring a ton of offensive upside to the defense, something they already have, but he does bring a physical component and great transitional game, making him and fellow body-banger Kevan Miller a sneaky-good bottom pair for the Bruins in game two. Expect Clifton to be a part of any momentum the Bruins can gather tonight.
Even though the Bruins are down in the series by just one victory for the opposing Capitals, they can’t bury themselves in an even bigger hole after tonight’s game. Going down 2-0 to one of the league’s best offenses will be quite the hill to climb for the Bruins, so they’ll need to be aggressive and physical right from the get-go. The Capitals will also be turning to their so-called fourth-string goaltender for tonight’s game, Craig Anderson. The 39-year-old is expected to get the start after Vita Vanecek was injured in game one.
Ilya Samsonov remains on the COVID-Protocol list with fellow teammate Evgeni Kuznetsov, and offseason signing Henrik Lundqvist hasn’t seen the ice with the team since undergoing heart surgery before the regular season. Anderson didn’t face much of a test from the Bruins in game one, making just 21 saves on 22 shots. The Bruins should fire any open opportunity they get on Anderson tonight, with an aggressive forecheck and game plan in place. Anderson went 2-2-1 in four starts during the regular season.
Bruins Projected Lineup
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
Hall – Krejci – Smith
Ritchie – Kuraly – Coyle
DeBrusk – Lazar – Wagner
Grzelcyk – McAvoy
Reilly – Carlo
Clifton – Miller