Bruins begin Conference finals
Last week’s Bruins Beat column mentioned several things missing, coming into Game Four versus the Columbus Blue Jackets: First on the list was the “lack of scoring” by the first line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak. Second, how Columbus’ goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was the “hot goaltender.” Third was the Bruins’ missing “puck luck.” The final point had Boston short on power play effectiveness, and penalty killing. Well, they managed to solve all three in one fell swoop while turning the corner and winning games four, five and six to move on to Round Three.
A solid three game win streak that saw the first line finally adding some production in the fashion they had been able to do previously. The title of the “hot goaltender” was removed from Columbus’ Bobrovsky, and bestowed into the glove of Tuukka Rask. The missing “puck luck” returned in mega form, especially in the series crowning Game Six, as the Blue Jackets hit four pipes in the 3-0 loss. The streak also saw the Bruins step up their penalty kill, and make their power play more effective.
The result of their hard work now has the locals preparing to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2013, and face the Carolina Hurricanes. In meeting the Canes on three occasions during the regular season, Boston was victorious in two of their three contests, with one win coming in overtime. First-year head coach, Rod Brind’Amour, played 21 seasons in the NHL, including 10 with the Canes, and was a member of the 2006 Hurricanes team that captured the 2006 Stanley Cup. Brind’Amour was able to guide his team into the playoffs, and managed to not only knock off the defending Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals in seven-games, but also sweep the New York Islanders in four-games. Having been tagged by former Bruins Coach and Hockey Night in Canada moderator Don Cherry as “A Bunch of Jerks,” due to their postgame antics during the regular season, they’ve ridden that ridicule to the playoffs…and the Eastern Conference Finals which begin tonight (Thursday) on Garden ice at 8pm. The dates and times for the remainder of the schedule will be announced shortly.
For those unfamiliar with the Carolina roster: Start with the 37-year-old Justin Williams, a true team leader and three-time Stanley Cup Champion (Carolina 2006, Los Angeles twice 2012 and 2014). His prowess has often been a factor in Game 7’s, earning him the nickname of “Mr. Game 7.” Sebastian Aho, with83 points in the regular season, four goals and five assists in 11 playoff games; Jordan Staal, played only 50 games in regular season due to a concussion, but played well upon his return, contributing four goals and five assists in 11 playoff games. Teuvo Teravainen, Aho’s right winger, put up 21 goals and 55 assists for 76 points in the regular season. The goaltending tandem of Petr Mrazek (sidelined with a lower-body injury – due to return to the lineup for this round, and Curtis McElhinney who filled in admirably, posted 43 wins for the Canes regular season, with McElhinney earning the final three wins that closed out the Islanders. Interesting fact: 24 Hurricane players presently on the roster – 13 of them were originally first and second-round picks. Ironically, one of the first-round picks is former Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton. A trade to the Calgary Flames for Hamilton (2014-15) brought back a first-round selection and two second round picks. Calgary traded Hamilton to Carolina to start the 2018-19 season, and the Bruins picks were Jeremy Lauzon, Zach Senshyn and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson.
On Tuesday, following a meeting with the NHL Department of Player Safety, it was announced that Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy has received a one game suspension for an illegal check to the head. The incident occurred in the second period of Game Six versus Columbus Blue Jackets’ forward Josh Anderson. McAvoy will sit out tonight’s (Thursday) Game One opener with the Carolina Hurricanes. McAvoy’s replacement on defense for Game One will cause some shuffling of the pairings, it is unlikely that Kevan Miller will be available, John Moore is questionable, and Steven Kampfer is also in the mix. The Bruins will continue with home ice advantage throughout the remainder of the playoffs.
Single game tickets for the Eastern Conference Final of the 2019 Boston Bruins Playoffs are available, as are suites. Tickets can be purchased at the TD Garden Box Office, the Boston Bruins mobile app, and at Ticketmaster.com/Bruins. Single game suite rentals, which can accommodate 18-60 fans and the Garden Greats Suite that provides fans the opportunity to watch the game alongside a Bruins alumni, will also be available.