The 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs don’t officially begin until April 15, but for the Boston Bruins, the must-win games already have arrived.
The Bruins’ magic number to clinch a postseason berth is four, but they’re tied with the Ottawa Senators for the final wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 95 points.
Boston’s final three regular season games are on the road against quality teams, starting with a Wednesday night matchup with the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center.
The Capitals beat the Bruins 4-0 at TD Garden in October and earned a 2-0 shutout on home ice March 15. Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby stopped all 61 shots against in those games and boasts a .948 save percentage and a 1.80 goals against average in his career versus the Bruins.
Tuukka Rask is expected to start in net for the B’s. He’s 1-5-3 with a 3.00 GAA and a .893 save percentage against the Capitals in his career.
As for lineup changes, David Krejci is likely to return to center, but head coach Claude Julien also has the option to move him back to the wing. Krejci said after Monday’s practice that it doesn’t matter which position he plays right now.
Loui Eriksson has played most of his even-strength shifts with Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly this season, but we might see him alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand on Wednesday night as part of a first line that would have the potential to dominate defensively. Eriksson has skated alongside Bergeron and Marchand over the last two days in practice, but Julien has mixed and matched his lines several times in the last week, so it’s really a guessing game at this point.
Here are the projected lineups for both teams:
BOSTON BRUINS (41-25-13, fourth in Atlantic)
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Loui Eriksson
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Chris Kelly-Ryan Spooner-Reilly Smith
Gregory Campbell-Carl Soderberg-Brett Connolly
Zdeno Chara-Zach Trotman
Matt Bartkowski-Adam McQuaid
Torey Krug-Joe Morrow
WASHINGTON CAPITALS (44-25-11, second in Metropolitan)
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Joel Ward
Marcus Johansson-Nicklas Backstrom-Troy Brouwer
Curtis Glencross-Brooks Laich-Jason Chimera
Andre Burakovsky-Michael Latta-Stanislav Galiev
Brooks Orpik-John Carlson
Matt Niskanen-Karl Alzner
Mike Green-Tim Gleason
Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images