BOSTON - With Charlie McAvoy suspended for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Bruins will turn to Steven Kampfer to take his spot in the lineup, coach Bruce Cassidy announced on Thursday morning.
Cassidy, who had said previously that the decision would come down to Kampfer or John Moore, believes that Kampfer's experience with sitting out for extended stretches will help him to have the right mindset.
"Just staying sharp is hard. Especially playoff time, the intensity ramps up, but I think he knows the value of being ready, as opposed to a game in the middle of January," said Cassidy, who will likely pair Kampfer with Matt Grzelcyk. "The stakes are just so much higher. He's a veteran guy, so he gets it, wants to be a part of it, a good thing and a good game.
"I think your focus is more sharp this time of year, so that kind of balances the two things, but it's not easy. It's a tough spot, but every team gets dealt that hand with certain players throughout the series, and teams that respond the best usually advance."
Video: Cassidy discusses having Kampfer in the lineup
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara had high praise for Kampfer - who has played just one game this postseason, the first of his career - citing the veteran blue liner's approach to being a role player.
"I always respect Steve very much," said Chara. "He was with us in 2010-11 and he did the same thing. He was probably playing a little bit more, but you watch how he was with the other teams and how much he competed and he worked so hard.
"It's something that is not easy to do to be out of the lineup for longer periods of time, but he handled it very well. He's always in a positive attitude and works hard. Every day on time. Early on [the ice], last guy coming off the ice."
Video: Kampfer talks potential return to lineup
Noel Acciari remains day-to-day with an upper-body injury, but is making progress, per Cassidy. Acciari took the ice with skating and skills coach Kim Brandvold ahead of an optional pregame skate on Thursday morning.
"Feeling better, will not play tonight," said Cassidy. "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."
Getting A Day
The full schedule for the Eastern Conference Final was announced late Wednesday night, revealing an extra day of rest ahead of Game 2, which will take place on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. Given how condensed playoff hockey is and the number of bumps and bruises that come along with it, having some added time away from the rink will no doubt be beneficial.
"I think the day off for us Friday will be good," said Cassidy. "We had a tough seven-game, six-game [series]. It's nice to get right back in it, the swing of things. You hope that's an edge for us, because [the Hurricanes] haven't played [in eight days]. Who knows how it will play out, but we also could use some rest somewhere.
"I think in the last series, we got it after Game 2, maybe. We need that extra day because we played a little more…you generally don't get a lot of those opportunities, so if we're going to get one, I think it's coming at a good time for us."
Video: Krejci discusses Eastern Conference Finals
Full Eastern Conference Final preview can be found here.
Thursday's Projected Lineup
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - David Backes
Marcus Johansson - Charlie Coyle - Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom - Sean Kuraly - Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara - Connor Clifton
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk - Steven Kampfer
Scratches: Noel Acciari (upper body), Karson Kuhlman, Charlie McAvoy (suspended), Zane McIntyre, and John Moore.
Video: Kampfer is in, Acciari skates