No. 5 Hurricanes vs. No. 4 Bruins
8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS, NESN, FS-CR
The Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes will start a rematch of the 2019 Eastern Conference Final with Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Tuesday.
Boston lost its three Stanley Cup Qualifiers round-robin games in regulation, which determined the top four seeds for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the East, after winning the Presidents’ Trophy with a .714 points percentage.
“We’re not going to look at it and base the next series off of what’s happened [in the round-robin games],” forward Brad Marchand said.
Goalie Tuukka Rask will start for the Bruins. He participated in an optional morning skate after he was ruled unfit to practice Monday.
The Hurricanes held the New York Rangers to four goals during a three-game sweep in a best-of-5 Qualifier series in Toronto, the Eastern Conference hub city. They were outscored 17-5 in a four-game sweep by the Bruins in the conference final last season.
“You get a feel for what it’s going to take to try to beat them,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “Don’t really have to say too much. We know we have to be at our best.”
Teams that win Game 1 of a best-of-7 series are 478-219 (68.6 percent).
Here are 3 keys for Game 1:
1. Impact of Aho and Svechnikov
Hurricanes first-line center Sebastian Aho and left wing Andrei Svechnikov combined for 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in three games against the Rangers. Aho’s eight points (three goals, five assists) in the postseason are tied for second in the NHL with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton Oilers).
“I think we’ve got good chemistry together,” said Svechnikov, who scored five points (three goals, two assists) against New York. “We have to get to another level, for sure. We’re going to try that against Boston.”
Aho and Svechnikov had success around the Rangers crease. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said Boston could keep them from replicating that.
“That’ll depend on us,” Cassidy said. “How we manage pucks. If we continue to be hard in the middle of the ice, then they’ll have to work hard to get in there.”
2. Bruins offense reigniting
The Bruins scored four goals in the round-robin after averaging 3.24 per game this season. Patrice Bergeron had one assist, and David Pastrnak and Marchand each was held without a point.
Boston also struggled on the power play, failing to score on nine chances in games against the Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals. Boston was 25.2 percent on the man-advantage this season, second to Edmonton (29.5).
3. Hamilton’s possible return
Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton will be a game-time decision after missing the Qualifiers. A decision on his status will be made based on how well he feels following warmups.
Hamilton last played Jan. 16 before having surgery the next day to repair a fractured left fibula. He led Carolina’s defensemen with 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists) in 47 regular-season games.
If Hamilton plays, Brind’Amour said he would be expected to play his usual minutes. He averaged an NHL career-high 23:17.
“I know any player that’s used to playing a lot and is counted on, that’s what you’re here to do,” Brind’Amour said.
Hurricanes projected lineup
Andrei Svechnikov — Sebastian Aho — Teuvo Teravainen
Nino Niederreiter — Vincent Trocheck — Martin Necas
Warren Foegele — Jordan Staal — Justin Williams
Brock McGinn — Morgan Geekie — Jordan Martinook
Jaccob Slavin — Dougie Hamilton
Brady Skjei — Joel Edmundson
Jake Gardiner — Sami Vatanen
Scratched: Ryan Dzingel, Haydn Fleury, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Clark Bishop, Steven Lorentz, Max McCormick, Jake Bean, Roland McKeown, Anton Forsberg, Alex Nedeljkovic
Unfit to play: Brett Pesce
Bruins projected lineup
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk — David Krejci — Ondrej Kase
Nick Ritchie — Charlie Coyle — Anders Bjork
Joakim Nordstrom — Sean Kuraly — Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara — Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug — Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk — Jeremy Lauzon
Scratched: Trent Frederic, Jack Studnicka, Par Lindholm, Zach Senyshyn, John Moore, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Maxime Lagace, Dan Vladar, Karson Kuhlman, Connor Clifton
Unfit to play: None
Pastrnak skated and is expected to play after he was ruled unfit Monday. … The Hurricanes have not announced a starting goalie.