Dougie Hamilton could make his postseason debut this evening for the Carolina Hurricanes when they take on the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of their First Round series. The puck drops at 8:00 pm on NESN, NBCSN and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Hamilton did not play in any of Carolina’s three victories over the New York Rangers in their Qualification Round sweep. He also did not suit up in their exhibition game with the Washington Capitals in late July. In fact, Hamilton has not played a game since mid-January when he suffered broken fibula against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Hamilton returned for Phases 2 and 3, but suffered a setback that has kept him out of the lineup.
“I hope so,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said when asked if Hamilton would play tonight. “He’s going to take warmup and then I’m expecting him to play, but we’ll have to make that decision, or he will, when warmup is over.”
It’s been almost seven months since Dougie Hamilton last played in a game. Where will he slot in the lineup if he does in fact play? The logical spot would be with Jaccob Slavin, his normal partner during the season. Brind’Amour touched on that earlier on Tuesday.
“I think the plan is if he can go, he’s going to go like we would expect,” Brind’Amour began. “If we have to back him down, then you back him down. I know any player that’s used to playing a lot and is counted on, that’s what you’re here to do. That’s what he certainly will want to do if he’s in the lineup. So you limit his minutes if he’s not up to speed, but I think we would expect him to be like he was before.”
If Hamilton does suit up, here is the projected defensive depth chart per the Carolina Hurricanes website.
Jaccob Slavin – Dougie Hamilton
Brady Skjei – Joel Edmundson
Haydn Fleury – Sami Vatanen
Jake Gardiner would be the odd man out. He would join Jake Bean and Trevor Van Riemsdyk among the scratches.
CAROLINA HURRICANES HAVE EDGE IN INTENSITY?
The Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins have both played three games in Toronto that counted. That’s where the similarities stop. The Hurricanes won all three games in their best-of-five series sweep of the Rangers in a do-or-die Qualification Round. The Bruins? They went 0-3-0 in the round-robin stage.
Just because the Hurricanes are unbeaten and have played more meaningful games doesn’t mean they have the edge in intensity, however. After all, the Hurricanes finished off their series last Tuesday night.
“I would have said if we would have started a couple days after that play-in round, we finished Tuesday, if we were playing Thursday I would have said yes, for sure. But now that we’ve kind of marinated for a week, I’m not sure that we have that advantage any more,” Brind’Amour said. “So I think that kind of goes out the window. I’d like to say it would have been, but I don’t think it is now.”
The Hurricanes will have the longest layoff of any team from the Qualification Round to the First Round. Call it the lone con of taking care of business so quickly.