The attention on the two off-days of this playoff series has been on the possible changes the Toronto Maple Leafs will make to their lineup to repair the damage of their no-show in Game 1, but the Boston Bruins will have a couple of changes of their own.
One, of course, was mandated by the NHL, which issued a one-game suspension to Bruins defenceman Andrew Ference for elbowing Leafs centre Mikhail Grabovski in the head in Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Toronto. Judging by Friday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena, Ference will be replaced by 19-year-old rookie Dougie Hamilton, although Bruins head coach Claude Julien said he will not confirm anything until the second game of the first-round series on Saturday.
The other change looks to be the insertion of veteran winger Rich Peverley to add some scoring punch to the third line with centre Chris Kelly and right winger Jaromir Jagr. Peverley played 47 of the Bruins’ 48 regular-season games, getting 18 points, but was replaced for the first game of the playoffs by Kaspars Daugavins, who was claimed on waivers from the Ottawa Senators on March 27.
Hamilton had an impressive rookie season, playing 42 games and showing his offensive promise with 16 points. But late in the season Julien kept him out of several games and then delayed his NHL playoff debut when the Toronto series started.
However, the coach said, this was done to give the youngster a rest rather than because of any concerns about his experience. Hamilton’s season actually started last August when he played on the Canadian junior team in the Canada-Russia Challenge. Then he joined his junior team, the Niagara Ice Dogs, for the Ontario Hockey League season, took a break to play for Canada at the world junior championships, returned to junior and then joined the Bruins when the NHL lockout ended.
“He’s played more hockey than any player on our team,” Julien said. “When you start in August and represent Canada not once but twice, then you play your junior games, and you play the minutes he played, and you come here and play the schedule we had, he deserved a rest.
“For that part, he’s going to come back a better player when he does come back.”
Julien thinks Hamilton has played enough high-stakes hockey to not be awed when he appears in his first NHL playoff game.
“He might be a young player for the playoffs but with the amount of games he’s played, he’s a veteran. He’s played enough hockey to understand what’s at stake here.”
It looks like Hamilton will play with veteran Wade Redden on the Bruins’ third defence pair. The other pairs are Zdeno Chara and Adam McQuaid and Johnny Boychuk with Dennis Seidenberg.
Peverley’s benching in favour of Daugavins was a mild surprise, although Julien said he never considered keeping him out of the lineup for long.
Julien also thinks Game 2 will follow the same course as the first game in that it will be a hard-hitting affair.
“I think before we started we knew [it would be a physical series],” he said. “I don’t think we surprised or disappointed anybody. It was going to be a physical battle.
“We came out, played hard and were physical and so were they. They finished every check they had to finish. It’s going to be that way, I’m pretty sure, the whole way.”