By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Bruins are going to have to wait until the pregame warmup to find out who they will be shooting on in Game 1 of the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals, as Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour has not named his Game 1 starter.
Now, it’s not gamesmanship on the part of Brind’Amour. It’s instead that the ‘Canes are not completely sure if Petr Mrazek, who departed Game 2 of Carolina’s second-round series victory over the Islanders with a lower-body injury, will be 100 percent ready to roll at full health in time for tonight’s tilt.
“[Mrazek’s health is] why we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves on saying who’s going to go because obviously [Mrazek] needs to be a thousand percent ready,” Brind’Amour admitted. “And that’s the conversation to be honest with you he has with Mike [Bales], our goalie coach, and then they bring that to me if he’s ready to do it. We’re not going to put him in if he’s not 100 percent mentally and physically ready, we don’t need to. We got another guy who is very capable.”
If Mrazek is unable to go, the Hurricanes will stick with Curtis McElhinney, who rattled off three straight victories and posted a .947 save percentage to push Carolina into their first third-round appearance since 2009.
The 35-year-old McElhinney made one start against the Black and Gold this season, and surrendered four goals on 38 shots in what was an overtime loss at TD Garden on Mar. 5. McElhinney, who was with the Maple Leafs before joining the Hurricanes, carries a 3-2-1 record and .934 save percentage in six career starts against the B’s.
Mrazek, meanwhile, defeated the Bruins with a 27-of-30 effort back in December, and comes into this series with four wins and an .888 save percentage in nine career appearances against the Bruins.
There’s no doubt who will be in Boston’s crease, however, as Tuukka Rask will get the call like he has all postseason.
The 32-year-old Rask has been sensational this postseason with eight wins and a .938 save percentage in 13 games played. Rask has been at his absolute best of late, too, with three straight wins and stops on all but four of the last 115 shots thrown his way.
Game 1 will have an 8 p.m. puck drop at TD Garden.