Location: TD Garden
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET; (NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS)
The Eastern Conference Finals start Thursday night at the Boston Bruins’ home-ice at TD Garden. The Bruins entered the series beating the Columbus Blue Jackets in six games. This will be their Eastern Conference appearance since 2013.
Tonight they will be without their star defenseman, Charlie McAvoy. The NHL suspended the defenseman for one game for an illegal check to the head of Blue Jacket winger Josh Anderson in Game 6. This is a big loss for the Bruins, as he was leading the team with 24:26 average ice time. Rookie defender, Connor Clifton, will fill McAvoy’s spot. He will pair with veteran defender Zdeno Chara.
Bruins Top Line and Power-Play
The Bruins 28.6 power play percentage is the best in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Great numbers, but last round they struggled scoring 3-for-19 (15.8%) against the Blue Jackets. The team need to depend on top players like David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Patrice Bergeron in the man advantage. The team needs to adjust the power-play unit without McAvoy in Game 1.
Carolina surprised the league by sweeping the New York Islanders in the second round. They had an 11-year playoff drought before this year Stanley Cup Playoffs. The last time they were in the Eastern Conference Final was in 2009. Before reaching the Eastern Conference Final, the Hurricanes defeated the Bruins in 7 games. The Hurricanes hadn’t appeared in the playoffs since their 2009 Stanley Cup Playoff run.
The Hurricanes are on a six-game winning streak. The last time they played was May 3rd when they beat the Islanders 5-2 to complete the series sweep. They hope to not be rusty after having several days off. They saw how difficult it was for the Islanders taking 10 days off after sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round. After beating the Washington Capitals in Game 7, they played the Islanders two days later. Having a substantial amount of time off is a plus any playoff team. But the negative side is teams are rusty after having long breaks between series.
Head coach Rod Brind’Amour hopes to stop the Bruins top line of Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak. He will match center Jordan Staal and defensemen Jacob Slavin and Dougie Hamilton on the ice. Taking chances away from their top line gives the Hurricanes the advantage. The Bruins depend on them too much sometimes.
The top forward for the Hurricanes is the all-star center Sebastian Aho. In the playoffs, he has nine points (four goals, five assists) in 11 games. He played really well against the Bruins in the regular season scoring seven points (four goals, three assists) in three games. He will be the player that the Bruins will keep an eye on.
The @NHLBruins held a 2-1-0 regular-season edge (@NHLCanes: 1-1-1), with a pair of stars leading the way for their club in the head-to-head series: Carolina’s Sebastian Aho (4-3—7 in 3 GP) and Boston’s Brad Marchand (2-3—5 in 3 GP). #NHLStats #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/6AGACnpAxU
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 9, 2019
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