BOSTON — Eight down, eight to go for the Boston Bruins.
On the heels of their second-round triumph over the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Bruins on Thursday will host the Carolina Hurricanes for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final. The Hurricanes enter the best-of-seven series as considerable underdogs, despite their first-round dismissal of the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals and second-round sweep of the New York Islanders.
Bruce Cassidy’s Bruins will be without the services of star defensemen Charlie McAvoy, who was suspended one game for his illegal hit on Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson in Game 6. Feisty blueliner Connor Clifton is expected to fill in alongside Zdeno Chara on Boston’s first defensive pairing.
Elsewhere, veteran forward David Backes remains in Boston’s lineup after providing legitimate contributions in the series against Columbus. Winger Noel Acciari (upper body) is expected to sit out with Joakim Nordstrom filling his spot on the fourth line.
Tuukka Rask will start between the pipes for the Bruins.
Here are the projected Game 1 lineups for both teams:
BOSTON BRUINS (0-0)
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk — David Krejci — David Backes
Marcus Johansson — Charlie Coyle — Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom — Sean Kuraly — Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara — Connor Clifton
Torey Krug — Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk — Steven Kampfer
CAROLINA HURRICANES (0-0)
Andrei Svechnikov — Sebastian Aho — Teuvo Teravainen
Nino Niederreiter — Jordan Staal — Justin Williams
Warren Foegele – Lucas Wallmark — Brock McGinn
Jordan Martinook — Greg McKegg — Micheal Ferland
Jaccob Slavin — Dougie Hamilton
Brett Pesce — Justin Faulk
Haydn Fleury — Calvin de Haan
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images