The Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals will kick off the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs with Game 1 of their first-round series Saturday night at Capital One Arena.
It's the first time these teams have met in the playoffs since the Capitals eliminated the defending champion Bruins from the 2012 playoffs with a Game 7 overtime win in Boston.
The B's dealt with a lot of injuries this season, but fortunately for them, they go into Game 1 with a close to optimal lineup health-wise. The Capitals have a few players who've been banged up of late, including Alexander Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie. Both players were on the ice for Saturday's morning skate, though.
Two notable players were not on the ice for the Capitals, according to Samantha Pell of the Washington Post:
Evgeny Kuznetsov is a very good offensive player, and his absence from the series opener wouldn't be insignificant.
The goalie situation for Washington also is a bit unknown. Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette has not yet announced a starting goalie for Game 1, and he might not do so until the team is forced to submit its official lineup closer to puck drop.
Vitek Vanecek is the best option for the Capitals in net, but he has zero postseason experience. Veteran backup Craig Anderson might be a safer pick. However, Pell noted that Vanecek was the first goalie off the ice at morning skate, which typically indicates he'll be the starter.
Here are the projected lines and pairings for Game 1 between the Bruins and Capitals
Brad Marchand--Patrice Bergeron--David Pastrnak
Taylor Hall--David Krejci--Craig Smith
Nick Ritchie--Sean Kuraly--Charlie Coyle
Jake DeBrusk--Curtis Lazar--Chris Wagner
Matt Grzelcyk--Charlie McAvoy
Mike Reilly--Brandon Carlo
Jeremy Lauzon--Kevan Miller
Tuukka Rask (starter), Jeremy Swayman (backup)
Alexander Ovechkin--Nicklas Backstrom--Anthony Mantha
Conor Sheary--Lars Eller--Michael Raffl
Daniel Sprong--T.J. Oshie--Tom Wilson
Carl Hagelin--Nic Dowd--Garnet Hathaway
Dmitry Orlov--John Carlson
Brenden Dillon--Justin Schultz
Zdeno Chara--Nick Jensen
Vitek Vanecek (starter), Craig Anderson (backup)