After polishing the New York Islanders in four games, the Carolina Hurricanes are getting back to work. Standing in the Hurricanes way are the Boston Bruins. Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final is set for Thursday evening in Boston.
Having days off is a weird feeling this deep in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Hurricanes were dealing with injuries in the last series to key players. Those injured players can take advantage of the rest. However, Carolina does not want to lose the momentum they built in the last series. History has shown that a team that sweeps in the previous round usually does not fair well in the next. Though this Hurricanes team has a different feel.
One players who took advantage of the rest was goaltender Petr Mrazek. Mrazek returned to practice today for the Hurricanes. Recall Mrazek was injured in the second period of Game 2 against the Islanders. Curtis McElhinney came in and played excellent. Not did he stop all 17 shots in Game 2, but only surrounded 4 goals in the next two games.
Carolina now has a dilemma come Game 1. Which goalie starts against Boston? With the series starting on Thursday, Carolina has time to decide on their goaltender. The team can’t go wrong with he either guy, because both have been superb. With Mrazek coming off an injury, would not be surprising at all if head coach Rod Brind’Amour goes with the hot guy in McElhinney.
Another player who returned to practice was Micheal Ferland. Ferland, who has missed the last nine games, with an upper body injury was glad to be back on the ice with his teammates. Even though the rest was nice, he wants to get back playing. Both Mrazek and Ferland feel they are ready to go.
Speaking of Rod Brind’Amour, he challenged his inner Allen Iverson when asked about whether or not Jordan Martinook would play in Game 1. Martinook missed practice on Tuesday as he was a “maintenance day.” Tuesday. Martinook has been dealing with a nagging lower body injury that has forced him in and out of the lineup this postseason.
Even with the time the off, captain Justin Williams believes this team will be 100 percent ready when the pucks drops for Game 1 on Thursday.
One player who will not be playing the rest of this postseason is Trevor van Riemsdyk. Van Riemsdyk had surgery to repair his injured shoulder and will be out the next four to six months. Carolina’s depth on defense will be tested. After making the announced Carolina recalled defenseman Jake Bean from the AHL affiliate on an emergency basis.
This will be an entertaining series as the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes played a feisty regular season series. Again Carolina will be the underdog against Boston. But the Hurricanes have relished in that role all postseason long. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs Carolina beat Boston in seven games. Could history repeat itself?
If there is one thing we have learned this postseason, is expect the unexpected.
On the next installment of Behind Enemy Lines, we take a look at the Carolina players to watch against the Boston Bruins.