The 2019 Eastern Conference Final begins tonight at TD Garden in Boston. The Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins will meet for the first time in the playoffs since 2009. That series - dubbed the Canes’ most emotional series by yours truly - will be tough to top. However, the pieces are in place and you never know what the future holds.
Broadcast Note: NBC crew for tonight’s game will be Doc Emrick alongside Eddie Olczyk. Brian Boucher will be between the benches. John and Tripp will handle the radio call.
Since dispatching the New York Islanders in a four game sweep, the Hurricanes have been able to rest and recuperate. They haven’t played since last Friday and tonight should see the return of a few faces that were absent in their last game. Petr Mrazek should re-assume his place as the starting goaltender. Jordan Martinook and Micheal Ferland are both expected to play, although their minutes may be limited.
The time off also saw some changes to the Canes’ powerplay unit. Expect Staal and Svechnikov on PP1 with Aho, Teuvo and Faulk. Nino and Justin Williams join Wallmark, Hamilton and Slavin on PP2. Ferland has also been practicing with the PP units, so a return to the 2nd unit is possible.
Below is the Canes’ projected lineup:
Andrei Svechnikov - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen
Nino Niederreiter - Jordan Staal - Justin Williams
Warren Foegele - Lucas Wallmark - Brock McGinn
Jordan Martinook - Greg McKegg - Micheal Ferland
Jaccob Slavin - Dougie Hamilton
Brett Pesce - Justin Faulk
Haydn Fleury - Calvin de Haan
Injuries and Scratches: Saku Maenalanen (hand surgery), Trevor van Riemsdyk (shoulder surgery), Jake Bean (healthy), Patrick Brown (healthy)
As for the Canes’ opponent, the Bruins more closely resemble the Washington Capitals than the Islanders. They’re built around their top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. That line alone has combined for five all-star game appearances, four Selkes (best defensive forward - all Bergeron), and two Stanley Cups. During their 13 playoff games this year, they have a combined 32 points and are plus-16.
The Bruins remind one of the Capitals in another fashion as well - their power play. It’s the best in the playoffs with a conversion rate of 28.6%. The Canes need to keep the play at 5 on 5 where the numbers indicate they are the better team. A game where the whistle is blown often and there is a parade of players to the penalty box does not favor Carolina.
Which brings us to Brad Marchand.
Marchand is a talented hockey player. He’s a two-time all-star and has his name on the Stanley Cup. However, his talent on the ice is all too often overshadowed by his antics before and after the whistle. There are things like breaking Cam Atkinson’s stick. Which is annoying. Then there are things like his cheap shot to Scott Harrington - for which he should have been suspended.
This all presents both a risk and opportunity for the Canes. Marchand will undoubtedly try something untoward during the series. The Canes must be prepared for it and not allow it to distract them. A particularly egregious act could result in a suspension - which would be an enormous blow for the Bruins. The Canes can’t back down - but they must keep their heads.
Here’s how Boston will line up tonight:
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – David Backes
Marcus Johansson – Charlie Coyle – Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Connor Clifton
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Steven Kampfer
Injuries and Scratches: Charlie McAvoy (Suspension), John Moore (upper body), Sean Kuraly (healthy) , Noel Acciari (undisclosed), Karson Kuhlman (healthy), Kevan Miller (lower body)
One final note: if you’re headed to the Carolina Ale House on Glenwood South for the watch party, expect to be among plenty of your closest friends. It might not be a bad idea to arrive early, and the always-helpful Jon Chase has a few pointers for fans making the trip tonight:
Here is link to downtown parking guide by Glenwood Avenue https://t.co/aIlma4baWM— Jon Chase (@JChasesthoughts) May 9, 2019
As far as @Uber which is a great option/idea, I’d say direct them to drop you off on Glenwood before the street closure or on side streets of Tucker or Johnson coming off of West or Boylan St. https://t.co/gDOOX4UrQE