Everyone knows Alex Ovechkin and Patrice Bergeron, but the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins boast plenty of new faces as they step into the 2022-23 regular season.
Wednesday’s slate of six openers includes a clash of these returning Eastern Conference playoff teams in Washington, D.C.
Dylan Strome has impressed since moving from Chicago to Washington as a free agent. The 25-year-old center scored three goals in four preseason games, including the overtime game-winner in Saturday’s finale against Columbus.
“Sometimes you turn the page on where you were last year and this year is a new year,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “You get an opportunity to make the most of it and it looks like he is trying to do that.”
The Capitals have Darcy Kuemper as a stable No. 1 in goal. He was a 37-game winner for Stanley Cup-champion Colorado last season.
The Caps got a last shakeup when forwards Axel Jonsson-Fjallby (Winnipeg) and Brett Leason (Anaheim) were lost on waivers prior to Monday’s 5 p.m. roster deadline, meaning that Aliaksei Protas, 2019 first-round pick Connor McMichael and Joe Snively won spots.
“We’ve got some young players here still,” Laviolette said. “(McMichael is) still young right now. Guys like Protas and Snively have come in and made some noise as well, so there will be a battle.”
A northern Virginia native, Snively played in 12 NHL games last season.
“Coming when I did, getting a few goals and some ice time under my belt, was huge for my confidence,” Snively said during training camp. “You never know when you’re in the AHL if you can make it in the NHL, but it’s nice when you can get there and you have an impact.”
New coach Jim Montgomery said he thinks this Bruins roster could contend again. However, the foreseeable future won’t include winger Brad Marchand and defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who are recovering from offseason procedures.
As a result, “I think people right now are getting exposed to opportunities they probably haven’t had before,” Montgomery said.
A.J. Greer, Jack Studnicka and Jakub Lauko all made the opening roster.
While Montgomery penciled defenseman Mike Reilly and forward Nick Foligno into Wednesday’s lineup after both cleared waivers, he didn’t indicate whether Jeremy Swayman or Linus Ullmark would start in goal.
Marchand (hip) and McAvoy (shoulder), who are both due to return around Thanksgiving, skated prior to Tuesday morning’s practice in Annapolis, Md.
Taylor Hall is on track to play after suffering an upper-body injury during the preseason, while Montgomery deemed defenseman Matt Grzelcyk as “ahead of schedule” in his recovery from a shoulder surgery.
“It’s going to be a team effort like it always is,” forward Charlie Coyle said. “Those guys are irreplaceable, individually. But you kind of pull the rope as a team and everyone kind of takes more responsibility.”
Versatile forward Pavel Zacha was the Bruins’ biggest offseason acquisition, coming to the club in a July trade that sent Erik Haula to New Jersey.
Zacha quickly jumped onto a line with Czech countrymen David Pastrnak and David Krejci.
“He seemed to have a lot of jump (in their preseason game together last Wednesday),” Montgomery said. “Now, is that jump just because he’s getting better throughout camp and he can do that with anyone? I don’t know. But right now, that chemistry with Krejci and Pasta is really good.”
As the season beings, the Bruins are continuing to work toward a new contract with Pastrnak, who is coming off his second career 40-goal season.
–Field Level Media