The Boston Bruins are in the nation’s capital tonight to take on the Washington Capitals and nemesis Braden Holtby (assumption on my part- have not seen confirmation he’s starting but given his history vs. the B’s, why not?) in what is the last of the team’s 7-game exhibition schedule. They are 4-2, having dropped their last two matches to Detroit and the NY Rangers after starting 4-0.
The “so what” to this is if I were a betting man (which I’m not, btw)- this is probably the closest thing to the opening night roster that we’ve seen as this is the final opportunity for Claude Julien and his staff to get a look at the guys they’ll put their hopes in at least to begin the year. With Zdeno Chara injured, it is as of yet unclear as to whether he will be back in time for opening night and if the team will carry eight defenders to begin the season.
Here’s the forward lineup (according to the Bruins Twitter):
Matt Beleskey — David Krejci — David Pastrnak
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron —Loui Eriksson
Jimmy Hayes —Ryan Spooner — Brett Connolly
Chris Kelly —Joonas Kemppainen — Zac Rinaldo
Max Talbot — Tyler Randell
The defense pairings:
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Matt Irwin-Kevan Miller
Colin Miller- Zach Trotman
Guessing that a rotation of Max Talbot and Zac Rinaldo will be how Julien plays it in the first 30 days or so, at least until injuries open up a regular spot for one of them or performance (lack thereof) forces a change. That likely means that Tyler Randell is odd man out and the team could try and slip him through waivers with the possibility that another team claims him after the years the B’s spent developing him. That will depend on how many defensemen the B’s decide to go with.
The video game set will sigh and groan that Matt Irwin is in the lineup over Joe Morrow, but he comes with the most NHL experience between the two if not the intriguing offensive skill set Morrow provides. You figured it was coming.
We’ll see how the squad fares at the Verizon Center tonight and get back to you.
I think Irwin has shown he’s earned a spot in the lineup. I think he’ll do quite well this year and his HERO chart indicates that he could be an effective middle pairing defensman.
Why Kevan Miller is in over Morrow, now *that* is baffling. I know he brings experience (88 games) but he has shown to be of little value with that experience. He hits well and plays as a stay-at-home guy, but he has never shown any upside.