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The Narrative: The Old Man and the Zee, Mystery Goalie and Injury Update

Three things we’re talking about today when we’re talking about the Caps

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NHL: Washington Capitals at Boston Bruins Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

1. The Old Man and the Zee

Zdeno Chara has played 1,608 NHL regular-season games and another 195 playoff matches. The entire Bruins blueline that is expected to skate in Saturday night’s Game 1 of the Caps/Bruins first-round series has played 1,480 games in the regular-season and 169 more in the playoffs. And, of course, Big Zee played 1,023/150 of those games in Boston’s black and gold.

Apparently that’s a storyline.

But what does it mean on the ice? Via The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir:

“He knows when we’re doing certain plays,” Marchand told reporters in Boston. “Obviously, teams will do video and stuff like that, but he knows all the code names that we use and typically the situations that we like to use them in. So even when we played them this season, we could see him talking to guys about the plays that we were going to do. So it could definitely cause some challenges at times. But it’s playoffs, you’ve got to work through that there.”

Laviolette acknowledged that he’s already downloaded some useful information from Chara and will continue to do so.

“You’re right about his knowledge of the Bruins,” Laviolette said, “and possibly some systems. And possibly some player detail. You often talk to players who played for a team that you’re facing in the playoffs for a little more information. He should be a good resource for us.”

Expounding upon that, The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa:

Nobody knows the Bruins’ tendencies, especially on the power play, better than Chara. As the Bruins’ penalty-killing ace, Chara always practiced against the No. 1 unit. He knows all their plays: David Pastrnak’s left-elbow screamer, Bergeron’s bumper one-timer, Brad Marchand’s up-high rotation.

“I think this is truly one of the reasons they signed Z,” Cassidy said. “For this time of the year coming up. His impact probably hasn’t even been truly felt yet. We’re going to be the first ones to find out what it is.”

As John Carlson put it...

Hopefully this intriguing story has a happy ending for Caps fans.

2. Mystery Goalie

Ah, the games coaches play come playoff time:

What intrigue! Will the Caps go with the guy who started 36 games for them this year, including six of the last eight, led all rookies in wins, and posted a decent-if-unspectacular 4-3-0/.905/2.86 mark against Boston this year? Or the guy who’s still on the COVID list (who was 0-1-0/.872/3.66 against the B’s anyway) and has played once since April 25? Or maybe the guy who will be 40 in a week, who has played two games since February? Hell, what about the AHL’s goals-against average leader?

I’m pretty sure we all know who’s going to be between the pipes tomorrow night, and he’s earned it (Vitek Vanecek, for those of you who are real slow on the uptake). Where they go from there should he falter, however, is another question...

3. Injury Updates

The Caps, of course, ended the season with some lingering (and new) injuries to key players, so let’s get an update on them:

Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Justin Schultz all played in the season finale and also appear to be good-to-go for Game 1.

Then, of course, there are the two... other guys:

So it looks like the Caps will start the series missing one or two of its top-six forwards. A tough task just got tougher...