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Welcome to TD Garden for tonight’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes.
With a trip to the Stanley Cup Final on the line, the Bruins and Hurricanes will kick things off tonight in Game 1.
Despite a first round upset over the Washington Capitals, and a relative easy sweep of the New York Islanders in round two, I feel that not enough people in Boston are giving the Hurricanes as much respect as they deserve.
Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour has yet to name his starter for Game 1, but it’s likely Petr Mrazek will get the start, returning between the pipes after missing the last two games with an lower-body injury.
On the Bruins side of things, they’ll be without Charlie McAvoy who was suspended for Game 1 after an illegal check to the head of Blue Jackets’ forward Josh Anderson in Game 6 Monday night.
With McAvoy out, Steven Kampfer will be his replacement, skating on the Bruins’ third defensive paring with Matt Grzelcyk to start.
Losing McAvoy hurts the Bruins in more phases than five-on-five. A key component on the Bruins’ second power play unit, McAvoy’s presence will be missed. In Wednesday’s practice, Kampfer took McAvoy’s spot on the power play.
On the penalty kill, it sounds like more of a workload for Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo, with Connor Clifton getting a look on the penalty kill as well.
“Zee [Chara] and Carlo, clearly, maybe asked to extend a little. We’ve got to be careful there. Grizz [Grzelcyk] has been doing it, and Clifton would probably take some of that on, because Kampfer will be more of a power-play guy for Charlie’s minutes,” added Cassidy. “Clifton will probably take more of Charlie’s PK minutes.”
The Bruins once again will be without Noel Acciari who remains day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. Acciari could be back in the lineup for Game 2 on Sunday.
“Noel skated this morning, feeling better, will not play tonight,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said Thursday. “He’ll be – he’s always been day to day, so Sunday afternoon would be the next target date for him. Saturday, if he’s full practice, then obviously I’ll give you a better update.”
Petr Mrazek leads the Hurricanes onto the ice and will get the start in Game 1.
Carolina will start Warren Foegele, Lucas Wallmark, Brock McGinn, Brett Pesce and Justin Faulk. Bruins counter with Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo.
Marcus Johansson pokes the puck away from Justin Faulk, and Steven Kampfer picks up the goal on the other end. 1-0 Bruins.
16:21: Sean Kuraly gets two minutes for roughing and Sebastian Aho immediately makes the Bruins pay. Tied at one.
Have to appreciate the speed of the Hurricanes. They can quickly get up and down the ice. Shots tied at six a piece.
Charlie Coyle can't handle a puck by his feet and he trips up Teuvo Teravainen as he goes the other way. Another power play coming for the 'Canes.
Chara in a ton of pain on the Bruins bench after blocking a shot. Looks like the puck got him in the leg.
Bruins kill the Coyle penalty.
Bruins will get their first crack at the power play. Nino Niederreiter with the slashing penalty.
Chara to the room.
Carolina kills it. One ugly Bruins power play.
First period ends tied at one.
Thoughts after 20:
I really liked the way the Bruins started the game. They came out with heavy zone time and controlled the pace of play which led to Kampfer's first career NHL playoff goal. But Carolina seemed to find their legs after Aho's power play goal.
Speaking of Aho. You can already see how much of a problem he is going to be in this series. His speed is a thing of beauty, and he's been all over the ice so far.
Also speaking of power plays. Another awful period of penalty calls. I felt all three called were soft. The precedent has been set!
This goes without saying, but the Bruins really need Chara to be okay. Already without McAvoy, the Bruins could be in trouble if Chara is out for the remainder of the game. Taking a closer look at the play, it looks like the puck got Chara in the foot/ankle area.
With or without Chara, the Bruins need to clean it up in the defensive zone. They're giving the Hurricanes a ton of space, especially down the middle.
No Chara to start the period.
And Chara is back.
Sean Kuraly gets Calvin de Haan in the face with his stick, another power play for the 'Canes.
A pair of big saves by Rask including a post-to-post stop on Teravainen.
Kuraly out, Bruins kill the penalty.
Greg McKegg banks one off of Rask and then barrels into him, taking Rask and the net out. Puck crosses the line before the collision. 2-1 Carolina.
David Krejci gets drilled into the boards by Michael Ferland and the Bruins head back to the power play. Interference the call.
Hurricanes get caught on a puck they thought was out of the zone, and Mrazek makes a nice stop on Johansson who was on his doorstep.
Better power play for the Bruins, but nothing to show for it.
A nice chance as time expires by DeBrusk who deflects a point shot, but Mrazek comes up with the nice pad save.
Thoughts after 40:
Not much to talk about in that one. An ugly period for the Bruins and they're trailing because of it. The Bruins picked up their game in last five minutes of the period, but they'll need to be much better in the third if they have any chance in winning Game 1.
Jordan Staal drills Chris Wagner into the boards. Two minutes for boarding.
Finally a power play strike for the Bruins. Johansson with the goal. Tied at two.
Another power play coming up for the Bruins, another soft one too. Dougie Hamilton for roughing.
Hey now, another power play goal. Bergeron with the strike. Hurricanes use their timeout.
Third Bruins power play of the period coming. Hamilton back to the box.
Hamilton out of the box.
Third period has been all Bruins so far. Got to expect a push coming from Carolina.
Huge Mrazek glove save on Marchand.
Mrazek has been good this period, another big save. This time on Wagner.
Empty Carolina net.
Puck bounces off of Sean Kuraly and rolls all the way down the ice into the empty net. 4-2 Bruins.
And then Chris Wagner seals the deal for the Bruins in Game 1.
That'll do it for Game 1. Bruins win 5-2. Game 2 set for Sunday afternoon, 3PM.