The morning skate was optional today, so no good way of an early prediction for any line-up changes tonight:
Defensemen who took part in the optional: Liles, McQuaid, Seidenberg, Miller, Morrow, Trotman. Goalie: Gustavsson.— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) March 5, 2016
Forwards who skated this morning: Pastrnak, Spooner, Hayes, Ferraro, Acciari, Randell, Connolly— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) March 5, 2016
That said, here are both teams line-ups as last seen:
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Andre Burakovsky - Evgeny Kutznetsov - Justin Williams
Jason Chimera - Marcus Johansson - Tom Wilson
Daniel Winnik - Mike Richards - Jay Beagle
As mentioned in the preview, this a deep and prolific unit. The only team with more goals than the Caps 210 are the Dallas Stars at 213, and the Stars have played two more games. The two scoring lines are back by a third line they can prey on you lower units and annoy the crap out of you, while the fourth line is made up of a recently acquired big-useful-body in Winnik, an ex-famous person, and a Beagle.
Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Dmitry Orlov
Mike Weber - Taylor Chorney
Recent acquisition Weber, and Chorney would be a rather unfamiliar third pairing, in the line-up thanks to John Carlson abeing out and Nate Schmidt being questionable. And while the Caps generally haven't missed a beat in terms of results with Carlson injured, it's worth mentioning that they've developed a tendency to fall behind early and then come back--as opposed to when they were generally wrecking people with everyone healthy. Former Penguin Niskanen has stepped up in Carlson's absence as well as Orlov, and the Caps recently got Orpik back as well. Remember that Stars stat? The Caps have conceded 42 less goals than the Stars, which doesn't like it should be possible, but there it is. Their goal differential is more than twice that of the next-best team in that category at +61.
And In Net:
Philipp Grubauer (starting tonight)
Holtby has been his usual very good stuff, though he's slumped a little recently and it's worth wondering if the workload's gotten to him a bit. That said, the Bruins're likely seeing his solid German back-up Grubauer for the Caps tonight.
Our SBNation counterpart for the Caps is Japers' Rink, a highly-recommend Capitals blog that I forgot to mention in the preview somehow.
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Lee Stempniak
Matt Beleskey - David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Loui Eriksson - Ryan Spooner - Jimmy Hayes
Landon Ferraro - Noel Acciari - Brett Connolly
Brad Marchand continues his torrid pace, now up to 33 goals. The Bruins in general got a bit of a spark from the Stempniak acquisition and finally following through on an old organizational idea of good for a youngish, less-grind oriented fourth line. The Stempniak trade also enabled them to drop Brett Connolly, who is best used as a puck-lugger against non-elite units anyway, to the fourth as well, and there isn't any sign of the veteran pluggers. At the very least, while we're not sure what Acciari can be, it's less punting of fourth line minutes.
Above the fourth line, this team's forward units just look...really good, now. If only there wasn't another main component of the team in front of Tuukka Rask to worry about....
Zdeno Chara - Kevan Miller
Torey Krug - Dennis Seidenberg
John-Michael Liles - Adam McQuaid
Ugh. Okay, look, Liles isn't flashy and he isn't a star, but there's a reason to think he's generally been underrated and can handle a Top 4 role. Especially when it comes to own-zone play, where the Bruins have struggled. While we're working with small sample sizes thus far, it'd behoove the Bruins to, after trading for a Top 4 D, play him as if he's a Top 4 D. Keep an eye on the TOI, because if Liles isn't playing more than the likes of Miller/Seidenberg/McQuaid, chances are they're not benefiting as much as they should from trading for a player of his abilities.
Oh, and yes, there are definitely better options than icing those three, as repeatedly outlined by anyone who's watched one of those players fall down with no one on the opposing team within ten feet of them. But what you want, magic?
And In Net:
Rask getting the nod seems likely, but nothing's confirmed as of yet. If he does, he's certain to be itching for a victory, since the Caps've hung a few losses in a row on Tuukka (which've generally been not his fault, but you should know by now he gets angry about these types of things).
Game's at 7, and we'll see you all at 6 for the gamethread. Happy Saturday!