Monday night might be the Boston Bruins’ dress rehearsal for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The B’s play their penultimate regular-season game, hosting the New York Islanders at TD Garden. After, Boston will get on a plane and head to the nation’s capital for a game against the Washington Capitals that might have very little meaning in the standings.
A point on Monday night will lock the Bruins into the East Division’s No. 3 seed, which means they would open the playoffs against the Capitals. It’s still possible the Islanders could leap-frog Boston with a win Monday night paired with two regulation losses for the Bruins.
Regardless, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy has made it a point to keep the focus on Monday night, which is significant for the return of winger Ondrej Kase.
The forward has played in just two games and hasn’t seen game action since Jan. 16, when he left early with a concussion. He’ll start Monday’s game on Boston’s fourth line with former linemate Jake DeBrusk on the right centered by Curtis Lazar. It’s unrealistic to believe Kase won’t have any rust, but that sort of talent on the fourth line is very intriguing.
Meanwhile, Chris Wagner returns to the lineup for the first time since April 29, skating on the third line. He might just be keeping Charlie Coyle’s seat warm until he returns from injury, but it is a big spot for Wagner to make his case for playing time moving forward.
Tuukka Rask gets the start in net for the Bruins.
BOSTON BRUINS (32-15-7)
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — David Pastrnak
Taylor Hall — David Krejci — Craig Smith
Nick Ritchie — Sean Kuraly — Chris Wagner
Jake DeBrusk — Curtis Lazar — Ondrej Kase
Matt Grzelcyk — Charlie McAvoy
Mike Reilly — Brandon Carlo
Jeremy Lauzon — Kevan Miller
NEW YORK ISLANDERS (32-17-6)
Leo Komarov — Mathew Barzal — Jordan Eberle
Anthony Beauvillier — Brock Nelson — Josh Bailey
Kyle Palmieri — Jean-Gabriel Pageau — Oliver Wahlstrom
Matt Martin — Casey Cizikas — Travis Zajac
Adam Pelch — Ryan Pulock
Nick Leddy — Scott Mayfield
Andy Greene — Noah Dobson