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3 Keys: Hurricanes vs. Bruins, Game 1 of Eastern First Round

Hamilton returns for Carolina; Boston must reignite offense

by Wes Crosby / Independent Correspondent

No. 5 Hurricanes vs. No. 4 Bruins


Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round between the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes will take place after being postponed a day.

It was originally scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the East hub city, but was moved when Game 1 of the first-round series between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets at the arena went into a fifth overtime (the Lightning won 3-2). 

"They kept us informed what would happen -- it was going to be pushed back -- and then eventually, it was called," Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. "That's the message we relayed to them, and we left it at that. Basically, hey listen, Game 1 of the playoffs tomorrow. We'll be ready to go. We've put our work in. Just come to the rink ready to play."

Boston lost its three Stanley Cup Qualifiers round-robin games, 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]," Bruins forward Brad Marchand said.

Goalie Tuukka Rask will start for the Bruins. He participated in an optional morning skate Tuesday 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. They were outscored 17-5 in a four-game sweep by the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final last season.

"You get a feel for what it's going to take to try to beat them," Carolina 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 are 478-219 (68.6 percent) winning a best-of-7 NHL playoff series.

Here are 3 keys for Game 1:


1. Hamilton returns, but Williams and Vatanen are out

Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton will play after missing the Qualifiers. 

Hamilton last played Jan. 16 before having surgery the next day to repair a fractured left fibula. He led Carolina defensemen with 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists) in 47 regular-season games.

Brind'Amour said Hamilton 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.

Forward Justin Williams and defenseman Sami Vatanen were ruled unfit to play Tuesday.

2. 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 Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

"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. 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."


3. Bruins offense reigniting

The Bruins scored four goals in the round-robin after averaging 3.24 per game this season. Center Patrice Bergeron had one assist, and forward David Pastrnak and Marchand did not score 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 successful at 25.2 percent this season, second to Edmonton (29.5).


Hurricanes projected lineup

Andrei Svechnikov -- Sebastian Aho -- Teuvo Teravainen

Nino Niederreiter -- Vincent Trocheck -- Martin Necas

Warren Foegele -- Jordan Staal -- Ryan Dzingel

Brock McGinn -- Morgan Geekie -- Jordan Martinook

Jaccob Slavin -- Dougie Hamilton

Brady Skjei -- Joel Edmundson

Jake Gardiner -- Haydn Fleury

Petr Mrazek

James Reimer

Scratched:  Trevor van Riemsdyk, Clark Bishop, Steven Lorentz, Max McCormick, Jake Bean, Roland McKeown, Anton Forsberg, Alex Nedeljkovic

Unfit to play: Brett Pesce, Justin Williams, Sami Vatanen


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

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

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


Status report

Pastrnak skated and was expected to play after he was ruled unfit Monday. … The Hurricanes had not announced a starting goalie.

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