Dougie Hamilton will be a game-time decision for the Carolina Hurricanes against the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS, NESN, FS-CR).
A decision will be made based on how the defenseman feels after taking part in warmups, coach Rod Brind’Amour said. Hamilton practiced Thursday for the first time since July 22, when he left the ice in discomfort during power-play drills.
“I would expect him to play,” Brind’Amour said. “But we’ll have to make that decision, or he will, when warmups are over.”
Hamilton missed Carolina’s three-game sweep of the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers in Toronto, the Eastern Conference hub city. He has not played since having surgery Jan. 17 to repair a fractured left fibula.
During the regular season, Hamilton led Hurricanes defensemen with 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists) in 47 games. He averaged 23:17 of ice time, an NHL career high.
Brind’Amour said he would expect Hamilton to play his usual minutes with defense partner Jaccob Slavin, if he feels well enough. He did not say who would exit the lineup to make room for Hamilton.
“I think the plan, for me, is if he can, he’s going to go like we would expect,” Brind’Amour said. “If we have to back him down, then you back him down. I know any player that’s used to playing a lot and is counted on, that’s what you’re here to do. That’s what he will certainly want to do if he’s in the lineup.”
Without Hamilton, Carolina held New York to four goals in three games.
Brind’Amour has not announced a starting goalie, but said Petr Mrazek and James Reimer could each be used this series.
Mrazek won each of his two starts in the Qualifiers with a 1.50 goals-against average and .940 save percentage. He was 21-16-2 with a 2.69 GAA, .905 save percentage and three shutouts in 40 games (38 starts) this season.
Reimer made 37 saves for a 4-1 win in Game 3 against the Rangers. He was 14-6-2 with a 2.66 GAA, .914 save percentage and three shutouts in 25 games (24 starts) this season.
“You can’t afford to falter too much,” Brind’Amour said. “If one guy’s not sharp or you need to rest a guy, you can’t afford to give away games. So having both guys ready and capable, I think, is an asset for any team.”