With seeds set for the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Boston Bruins weren’t taking any chances.
Bruce Cassidy sat nine forwards and six of his defenseman — all usual contributors — against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday in the last regular-season game of the year.
Why risk an injury when there’s plenty of other guys with a lot to play for in a meaningless game?
Unsurprisingly, the Capitals won 2-1 at Capital One Arena. But those Providence guys made the most of the opportunity, skating with a team of Washington’s caliber all game until they scored the game-winner in the final minute of the game.
“Those guys work hard to get this opportunity,” center Curtis Lazar said during his postgame media availability after scoring Boston’s lone goal.
“It’s funny for a guy like myself, new to the team. I didn’t know 60 percent of them ’til tonight. You know I’m shaking hands before the game and whatnot, but we fought hard. A lot of good things to take away from this game. I thought they rose to the occasion.”
Head coach Bruce Cassidy shared that sentiment, especially after the Bruins settled in.
“I thought they played better as the game went along, guys played with a little more conviction,” Cassidy said. “We tried to encourage them that they belong here. This is a good team we’re playing, circumstances are a little bit unique, the last game of the year, etc. But for some of them might be the last game you play, and for others, if we have the run we want to have, then opportunity may knock for you down the road. So put your best foot forward.”
Here are a few other notes from Bruins-Capitals:
— Rookie goaltender Jeremy Swayman had another solid performance in net (30 stops) despite the loss.
He finished the regular season 7-3 for the Bruins, but all things considered, he’s done everything they’ve asked from him when injuries and COVID-19 kept Boston’s typical goalie tandem, Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak, off the ice.
But did Swayman win the backup job over Halak entering the postseason?
“Yeah, he will be, I think he’s earned that,” Cassidy said.
“Obviously a tough call with Jaro with his experience. He’s just played more down the stretch here, and some of that was out of circumstance, Tuukka got hurt, Jaro went into COVID. So there’s a quarantine and then the goalie is a little tougher to get thrown back in there, so a little time to get back up to speed, and thought Swayman grabbed the ball and ran with it. That’s the decision there, but that could change as we go along, obviously as Jaro gets more reps, but right now I think Swayman has done everything we’ve asked.”
— OK, the next one counts a little more.
Boston and Washington get a bit of a break from each other before meeting back up Saturday to begin Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“I got a tough opponent in front of us, but so does Washington, so does Pittsburgh, so do the Islanders,” Cassidy said “It’s a tough division, so may the best team win. And we’re prepared to be that team, and the good news is, we’re probably healthier than we’ve been all year. That’s the positive for us going in and hopefully that pays off.”
Puck drops at 7:15 p.m. ET. live.