The puck officially drops on the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs today with four games on the NHL's schedule. Among the most intriguing matchups is the Eastern Conference Final rematch from last season that will pit the upstart Carolina Hurricanes and the veteran-laden Boston Bruins against one another. Two fast, physical teams with plenty of offensive weapons. Honestly, this series has the makings of an all-time classic.
Can Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov and company continue their roll after a three game spanking of the New York Rangers? Can the Bruins flip a switch and start playing playoff hockey without any real run up to things? Again, this has the makings of a great series.
One thing we know for sure, Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind'Amour will have his team ready to go when the puck drops. The fiery, former NHL star turned head coach is heartbeat of this team and he has a unique ability to get the most out of his players. One player of particular interest though will be Dougie Hamilton. The former Bruins blueliner had his season cut short due to injury but, due to the NHL's COVID-19 shutdown, Hamilton was afforded the time to recover and will reportedly be in action for the 'Canes tonight.
Check it out:
Yowza. The Hurricanes now sport a defense corps that features Hamilton, Jaccob Slavin, Brady Skjei, Joel Edmundson, Jake Gardiner and Sami Vatanen. Not bad. Not bad at all. Outside of Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy though, the Bruins simply don't stack up on the blue line. Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk are both capable defenders and Zdeno Chara is a living legend, but let's be real... the Hurricanes have a much better and deeper defense corps than the Bruins.
But here's the thing: The Bruins have the best line in the NHL. The Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand combo is enough to give any blueline fits, so if the Bruins are going to have any success against the Hurricane's strong defence, they'll need a strong showing from their top line. To be fair, Hamilton hasn't played a hockey game since January 16 so it's not like he'll be in top form. In any case, his addition has to be seen as a positive for the Hurricanes.