By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
Following Monday’s Game Six shutout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Boston Bruins officially move on to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since their Stanley Cup Finals run in the 2012-13 season. Boston now has a combined 8-6 record in the 2019 postseason and they prepare for a third-round match-up with the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes entered the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the second wild-card team, but courtesy of a Brock McGinn overtime winner in Game Seven, the Canes eliminated the Washington Captials who were the defending Stanley Cup Champions. Carolina then faced the New York Islanders in the second round, a team who had swept the experienced Pittsburgh Penguins in their first round match-up. The ‘Bunch of Jerks’ dominated the Islanders, winning four straight – sweeping New York to meet at that time, either the Bruins or Blue Jackets.
For the second consecutive series, the Bruins will have to face a team who has had plenty of time to rest after their previous round ended while they have to deal with minimal rest in comparison to Carolina. However, the Bruins do have a few more days than they had between the Toronto and Columbus series which should be a great break for the team to regroup with only two rounds left to go.
Skaters To Look Out For
- F Brad Marchand: 13GP – 5G – 8A – 13P
- F David Pastrnak: 13GP – 6G – 5A – 11P
- F David Krejci: 13GP – 4G – 6A – 10P
- F Charlie Coyle: 13GP – 5G – 3A – 8P
- F Patrice Bergeron: 13GP – 5G – 3A – 8P
- D Torey Krug: 13GP – 1G – 7A – 8P – 21:25 TOI
- D Charlie McAvoy: 13GP – 1G – 5A – 6P – 24:46 TOI
The first-line trio of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron had some early struggles in the 2019 postseason, but near the end of the best-of-seven series against the Blue Jackets, the top line started to heat up. In the crazy Game Five, Pastrnak tallied a pair of goals and his linemates of Bergeron and Marchand have been on the scoresheet numerous times as well.
David Krejci and Charlie Coyle have been the two best point-producing forwards aside from that line and Coyle himself has had some big goals including the game-winner in Game One’s first overtime session. Marcus Johansson and Sean Kuraly (not listed above) are also having themselves a big postseason. Both of them scored the insurance goal in each of the first series (Kuraly vs TOR in Game 7, Johansson vs CBJ in Game 6) and have been finding their game all over the ice.
On defense, Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy have arguably been the names seen the most, with them both having large time-on-ice numbers throughout the 13 games thus far, but players such as Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk have also been huge for Boston on the back-end. Going back to Game Five against Columbus, Carlo shut down Artemi Panarin in the defensive zone before passing it up to Marchand and then to Pastrnak for the game-winning goal in the dying minutes of the third period.
The experience of the Bruins roster is something to watch out for as they have been able to battle through a lot of adversity throughout their years together as a core group, especially in 2018-19.
- D Jaccob Slavin: 11GP – 0G – 11A – 11P – +8 Rating – 26:36 TOI
- F Teuvo Teravainen: 11GP – 6G – 3A – 9P – +8 Rating – 20:20 TOI
- F Warren Foegele: 11GP – 5G – 4A – 9P
- F Jordan Staal: 11GP – 4G – 5A – 9P
- F Sebastian Aho: 11GP – 4G – 5A – 9P 21:25 TOI
- D Dougie Hamilton: 11GP – 3G – 4A – 7P 20:11 TOI
- F Justin Williams: 11GP – 3G – 3A – 6P
Surprisingly, Jaccob Slavin leads the Hurricanes in points during the post-season with 11 assists in the same number of games. Three of those assists came in the Game Seven win over the Capitals. The 25-year-old defenceman averages the most minutes-per-game on the entire Hurricanes roster, with D Justin Faulk behind him, averaging 25:54 on the ice per game.
Behind Slavin, four Carolina forwards have nine points, putting their display of depth scoring on the max setting. Teuvo Teravainen led the team with 3-2-5 numbers in the four-game sweep of the Islanders. Seven players had three or more points in that same time span,
If the series goes to the do-or-die seventh game, then the Hurricanes will have a strong asset in captain Justin Williams. Williams holds the NHL record for most points in Game 7 with 15 throughout his career and boasts an 8-1 record in those crucial games. Williams was named the captain of Carolina in September 2018 and he has been the embodiment of leadership for the young locker room, having won the Stanley Cup on three occasions (’06 with CAR, ’12 & ’14 with LAK).
Goaltenders in the Between the Posts
BOS: Tuukka Rask – 8-5 .938 SV% – 2.02 GAA
Before the second-round battle with the Columbus Blue Jackets even started, one of the biggest concerns was how good Sergei Bobrovsky is and was most likely going to be for the duration of the series. Bobrovsky was good, but Tuukka Rask was outstanding for the Bruins for all six games, especially in the final three wins for the B’s.
In Game 4, Rask made 39 saves on 40 shots with the only goal going in creating controversy after the puck clearly hit the netting above the end boards. In Game Five, Rask was solid for the majority of the game, before allowing three third period goals in what was an insane final frame. Blue Jackets Head Coach John Tortorella claimed Rask was “dented” after Game Five, but Tuukka came back even stronger with a 39-save shutout to eliminate Columbus.
One could very well argue that the reason that the Boston Bruins are prepping for Conference Finals, is Tuukka Rask’s elite play in net.
CAR: Curtis McElhinney – 3-0 .947 SV% 1.56 GAA OR
Petr Mrazek – 5-3 .913 SV% 2.22 GAA
Petr Mrazek was the starting goaltender throughout the regular season and was to begin the playoffs as well, eliminating the Washington Capitals and taking Game One against the Islanders. However, in Game Two, Mrazek suffered a lower-body injury that is being listed as a groin injury and did not play for the remainder of the series. Former Maple Leafs goalie, Curtis McElhinney, stepped in and won three straight to complete the sweep.
The eight-day break for Carolina allowed Mrazek to improve with his injury and it seems like he will be the goaltender that starts in Game One, but as of 1:00pm EST, Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour would not directly release who that starting goaltender is. If it is McElhinney, the Bruins can expect Mrazek to be back in the lineup maybe as soon as Game Two on Sunday.
Either way, both netminders in the red and black sweaters for the Canes will be at the top of their game as they have shown throughout the postseason so far. Boston is used to playing against a hot goaltender, dealing with both Frederik Andersen and Sergei Bobrovsky in the opening two rounds.
The Bruins and Hurricanes played in three games during the 2018-19 campaign, with Boston finishing the season series with a 2-1-0 record.
- October 30th/18: Bruins 3 – Hurricanes 2
- December 23rd/18: Hurricanes 5 – Bruins 3
- March 5th/19: Bruins 4 – Hurricanes 3 OT
Both of Boston’s wins over Carolina this season were only by a lone goal when the final buzzer sounded, including an overtime win to close out the season series on March 5th. Carolina won their only game of the series by a final score of 5-3. Tuukka Rask allowed five goals on 37 shots against while Petr Mrazek stopped 27 of 30 shots that faced him.
Throughout the NHL history, both franchises have had some legendary playoff moments as well. That dates back to the days of the Hartford Whalers before the relocation to Raleigh, North Carolina for the 1997-1998 season. For more on that history, check out fellow BNG’s teammate Evan Michael’s article regarding the Bruins/Hurricanes before their 2019 clash.
Projected Lines for Game One
Scratched: Noel Acciari (upper-body), Karson Kuhlman (healthy), Charlie McAvoy (suspended for an illegal hit to the head), Zane McIntyre (healthy), John Moore (healthy).
Carolina Hurricanes (per @NHLCanes on Twitter):
A starting goaltender has not been announced.
Scratched: Bean (healthy), Brown (healthy), Maenalenen (upper body), van Riemsdyk (upper body).
Puck drop for Game One is scheduled for tonight, May 9th at 8:00pm EST in Boston, followed by the remaining possible six games:
Game Two: Sunday, May 12th – 3pm EST in Boston
Game Three: Tuesday, May 14th – 8pm EST in Carolina
Game Four: Thursday, May 16th – 8pm EST in Carolina
Game Five*: Saturday, May 18th – 7:15pm EST in Boston
Game Six*: Monday, May 20th – 8pm EST in Carolina
Game Seven*: Wednesday, May 22nd – 8pm EST in Boston
With that, let the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals begin!