BOSTON – For someone who’s making his Stanley Cup playoff debut tonight, Red Wings rookie Tomas Jurco plans to keep his mind off of Game 1 against the Boston Bruins by playing a different kind of game.
“Actually it’s funny because my friend is laughing at me all the time,” Jurco said following the Red Wings’ morning skate at TD Garden. “He came from Slovakia and he didn’t know I played so much games, and yesterday we were laughing about that. I always play like little kids game on my iPad. I don’t know, just a bunch of games just to relax a little bit and think of something else.”
Jurco plans to head back to the team hotel where he’ll grab a bite to eat before he settles into his room with his tablet before he dozes off for an afternoon nap.
Like many professional athletes, Jurco’s routine is meant to keep his mind off the game so he can be fresh once the puck drops.
“It’s lots of hockey here and it’s always good to take your mind for something else,” Jurco said. “Then you’re going to be more prepared for hockey, you’re going to be more excited to go back to hockey so I always like to play some games just to think of something else.”
Ever since he was called up in mid-December from Grand Rapids, Jurco has been a tremendous contributor for the Red Wings. For most of the time he worked perfectly on the Kid Line with center Riley Sheahan and fellow Slovakian Tomas Tatar.
But lately, coach Mike Babcock has moved Jurco to the third line where he can utilize his speed and strength alongside with center Darren Helm and veteran winger Daniel Alfredsson.
Jurco is among four Wings’ rookies who will make their Stanley Cup playoff debuts tonight. Sheahan, Tatar and Luke Glendening are the others. All three were part of the Griffins’ Calder Cup championship run last spring, so they at least have some playoff experience at the pro level.
“The kids have played in the Calder Cup, it’s playoff hockey,” Babcock said. “I’m not concerned about them one bit. They know you have to battle for every inch of the ice. As much as it was a playoff battle for us over the last 20 games it wasn’t like that for the other team so it’s now like the playoffs for that team too and they’re going to compete.”
Jurco knows this series will be like no other series that he’s ever played in.
“It helped me a little bit for sure just to compete with men in the playoffs,” Jurco said. “Before I only played in the playoffs in juniors so it for sure helped me a little bit but this is a little different. … I expect it’s going to be more physical, more emotional, it’s going to be tough games, each game, each minute of the game will be really hard so it’s going to be a little different than the regular season but it’s still the same league so I can’t be afraid of something. Just gotta play like I played before.”
Game 1 will also be emotional for Sheahan, who will make his NHL postseason debut after playing in 44 regular-season games over the past three seasons.
“I’m sure it will be a little different once the game starts,” said Sheahan, who has a goal in each of the past three games. “It will be fun and we’re looking forward to the opportunity we have and we’re just going to embrace it. First game is going to be huge. We’re going to have to come out strong and come out physical.”
GAME 1 LINE COMBOS: The Red Wings used the same forward lines in Friday’s morning skate as they did in Thursday’s practice at Joe Louis Arena. Jimmy Howard will get his 43rd career postseason start. He has a 20-22 record with a 2.57 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.
Game 1’s projected line combinations and defensive pairings for the Red Wings and Bruins appear to be the following:
Johan Franzen – Pavel Datsyuk – Justin Abdelkader
Tomas Tatar – Riley Sheahan – Gustav Nyquist
Tomas Jurco – Darren Helm – Daniel Alfredsson
Drew Miller – Luke Glendening – David Legwand
Niklas Kronwall – Brendan Smith
Kyle Quincey – Danny DeKeyser
Brian Lashoff – Jukab Kindl
Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Reilly Smith
Carl Soderberg – Chris Kelly – Loui Eriksson
Jordan Caron – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara – Dougie Hamilton
Andrej Meszaros – Johnny Boychuk
Torey Krug – Kevan Miller