BOSTON — The waiting is almost over, with the Bruins ready to open the defense of the Stanley Cup on Thursday night in Game 1 of their first-round series with the Capitals at the Garden.
But there will still be a wait to find out exactly what the Bruins lineup will look like in that first game against Washington.
Bruins coach Claude Julien has several decisions to make, and won't finalize his roster until after the pregame warm-ups.
The biggest decision comes on defense, where Julien is optimistic that he will have the option of inserting Johnny Boychuk back into the lineup. Boychuk missed the final two games of the regular season with a knee injury, but has practiced all week and should be good to go.
"Well I hope so," Julien said. "Tonight as you know I’m going to dress 22 [players in warm-ups], an extra forward, an extra D and that will be a decision made after warm-up."
If Boychuk can play, then Mike Mottau will likely sit out on defense. Adam McQuaid is definitely out after missing practice all week with an upper-body injury, but Julien has plenty of faith in all of his remaining defensemen.
"I feel very confident," Julien said of the depth on defense. "Everyone that we have here is very capable of playing. We've got one guy that's going to be out for sure tonight in McQuaid, but the other seven you can put any one of them in there and they've all done a great job. So if anything I feel extremely confident. I think [general manager] Peter [Chiarelli] did a great job of solidifying that position for us, because it’s position that we needed to solidify and the two guys he brought on in — you look at [Greg] Zanon and Mottau have both played extremely well for us in the games that they've played. So, I think that's an area that I feel very comfortable with."
Julien will also have to make a healthy scratch up front, with youngster Jordan Caron likely to be the off man out to start the series.
Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask is also expected to remain out with an abdominal/groin injury. Anton Khudobin will dress as the backup with reigning Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas starting in goal.
The Capitals have their own injury issues in goal. Tomas Vokoun (groin) did not make the trip, while Michal Neuvirth (leg) skated with the scratches after the main morning skate. That leaves rookie Braden Holtby to make his first playoff start, but the 22-year-old seems unfazed by the situation.
"Everything I've experienced in life, when you start thinking too much and looking too much into it, everything seems to fall apart," Holtby said. "This is what everyone’s dream is, to play in the playoffs. I’m just trying to enjoy it and focus on what has got me here."
Jay Beagle did not participate in Washington's optional morning skate, but coach Dale Hunter said that he was fine. Former Bruin forward Mike Knuble is expected to be a healthy scratch along with Jeff Halpern and Cody Eakin up front and Dmitry Orlov and John Erskine on defense.
While the Capitals held an optional skate, the Bruins were all business in their morning workout.
"Our guys this morning were focused," Julien said. "I think they are excited and hopefully they'll show that once the puck is dropped tonight. We're a serious group today I didn't find them tight or tense I just found them ready."
Stephen Walkom and Ian Walsh will be the referees, with Jean Morin and Derek Nansen working the lines.
Projected Bruins lines
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Rich Peverley
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot-Chris Kelly-Brian Rolston
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference-Johnny Boychuk
Greg Zanon-Joe Corvo
Scratches: Adam McQuaid (upper body), Nathan Horton (concussion), Tuukka Rask (groin), Mike Mottau, Jordan Caron
Projected Capitals lines
Alex Ovechkin-Brooks Laich-Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera-Nicklas Backstrom-Alexander Semin
Matt Hendricks-Jay Beagle-Marcus Johansson
Keith Aucoin-Mathieu Perrault-Joel Ward
Karl Alzner-John Carlson
Roman Hamrlik-Mike Green
Jeff Schultz-Dennis Wideman
Scratches: John Erskine, Jeff Halpern, Mike Knuble, Cody Eakin, Dmitry Orlov, Tomas Vokoun (groin), Michal Neuvirth (leg)
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