A few things to ponder while waiting for the East Division-leading Capitals to arrive in town for a couple of games against the Bruins this week (Wednesday/Friday) and perhaps the start of the Jarred Tinordi era on Causeway Street:
Tinordi, claimed from Nashville via waivers Saturday, is the 2021 version of Nick Holden, the onetime Ranger defenseman acquired by the Bruins near the February 2018 trade deadline.
Like Holden, Tinordi is a big (6-6, 230) left-shot defenseman, arriving at a time when the back line needs a heft refreshing. Holden, then 30, had been a regular for both the Avalanche and Rangers when he arrived. Tinordi, though a Montreal first-round pick (22d in 2010), has never been a regular outside of the American Hockey League.
Is he worth a shot? Sure. The Bruins gave up nothing, only having to pay the remainder of his $700,000 contract, and coach Bruce Cassidy has been proficient in eyeing smart fits for guys, be it at forward or on defense. Tinordi, who just turned 29, could help over the next 4-5 weeks while Jeremy Lauzon mends following surgery to repair a fracture in his left hand.
“Our depth has been challenged in terms of size,” noted Cassidy. “This gives us a little bit of a different look back there — a little more stout and stiffness. Just a different element of a makeup of a back end.”
Jakub Zboril partnered capably with Charlie McAvoy on the No. 1 pairing in Sunday’s 4-1 win over the Rangers. Tinordi could be a candidate to move into that spot, which is where Lauzon was slotted before his injury.
“He’s a bigger stay-at-home guy,” mused Cassidy. “His numbers [1-10—11 in 88 NHL games] obviously are tilted toward a stay-at-home guy. I’m not saying he’s going to go in the first pair, because we haven’t seen him yet, but he is that type of defender who could find a lot of usage in our back end right now.”
Kuraly wings it
View from the virtual press box: There’s a lot to like about Sean Kuraly as a winger, which is where he lined up (left side) in Sunday’s win. Taxi squadder Greg McKegg filled Kuraly’s center spot, and Karson Kuhlman swapped in for Chris Wagner.
Free of a centerman’s defensive responsibilities, Kuraly can use his size (6-2, 213) to set a forechecking tone and grind the boards, work the corners. Those same skills also can move him higher into the order as a winger, making him a viable candidate even on the first and second lines when relief is needed up there.
Obviously, Kuraly likes the middle more, which is always the case with centers. But as a center, Cassidy prefers to slot him No. 4, even with David Krejci on the sidelines. Perhaps more reps on the side will lead to more chances to play higher in the order and possibly pick up more points. (Always a good thing with his contract only weeks away from expiring.)
Kuraly on Sunday landed all three of the shots he took and led the team with six hits with his 13:41 ice time.
Miller not close
Cassidy over the weekend did not sound optimistic about sidelined blue liner Kevan Miller returning soon.
“He’s doing some off-ice stuff and feeling a little better,” said Cassidy. “But until he gets on the ice [for a practice], that’s just speculation. Probably say status quo at best.”
Miller lost all of last season after twice fracturing a kneecap in the spring of 2019, first at the end of the regular season, then again as he was preparing to return for the conference finals.
“He was disappointed he had a setback; he’s put in a lot of hard work, made it through a good, what, month at least,” added Cassidy. “Had some minor issues, a day off here or there, and then it kind of flared up on him.
“This is what happens after a couple of surgeries. It needs time to calm down. But yes, he wants to be back in the lineup. Felt he was doing everything he could to get back, was playing well, doing his job, contributing, and then to have the setback, it affects you mentally.
“But we’re trying to keep it as positive as possible with him, and again, hopefully it’s just a one-and-done thing and he’s ready to go soon.”
Tussle at the top
The Capitals have gone 4-0-1 in their last five and reclaimed their lead in the East over the weekend, now with a 2-point edge over Boston. The Bruins, with two fewer games played, have a slight edge in points percentage (.684 to .667) … Ex-Bruins captain Zdeno Chara hasn’t missed a beat on the Capitals blue line. Big Z will arrive on familiar frozen firma with a 2-4—6 line, averaging 19:24 in ice time. He leads Washington with a plus-10 … The Bruins are back on the ice Tuesday for a practice in Brighton. They’re hoping injured defenseman Matt Grzelcyk can draw back into the lineup Wednesday … Lost in the back-to-back drubbings vs. the Islanders and Rangers last week: Brad Marchand connected for his 300th career goal, ranking him seventh on the Bruins all-time list (Cam Neely is next at 344) … The Bruins signed forward Curtis Hall, a fourth-round pick in 2018, to a three-year entry-level contract beginning with next season. The deal carries an annual NHL cap hit of $925,000. Hall, 20, played two seasons at Yale (2018-20) after two years in the USHL with Youngstown.