When Boston Bruins star defenseman Charlie McAvoy received a suspension on Tuesday from the NHL for an illegal hit to the head on Josh Anderson of the Blue Jackets, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy turned to a seldom-used, but familiar face to replace McAvoy.
Former Michigan defensemen Steve Kampfer (‘10) will make his second start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the puck drops on the Eastern Conference Final at TD Garden. Boston, the second seed in the East, opens its best of seven series against the seventh seeded Carolina Hurricanes at home Thursday night.
Kampfer is making the second postseason start of his career, and of the 2019 playoffs. He last played for Boston in Game 3 of the B’s opening round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, a game in which the Bruins fell 3-2 to Toronto. Kampfer registered one shot on goal in his 11:06 on the ice.
“Kampfer was in this position ironically in 2011 when I had him as a Black Ace.” Cassidy told NBC Sports Boston. “You have to stay ready if you get an opportunity. He has had one [playoff game] and he’s going to get another one. You just go out and give us what you got. We’re not going to put him out there for 20 minutes. Move the puck, win your one-on-one’s and play hard. It’s just going to be hard to get to that playoff intensity level when you’ve been sitting out.”
Kampfer spent most of his season with the Bruins but only featured in 35 games, typically a healthy scratch as the extra defenseman on the roster. The Ann Arbor native finished the regular season with six points (three goals, three assists) and -6, often skating as part of Boston’s third defensive pairing. It is worth noting two of Kampfer’s three goals on the season were scored against none other than the Hurricanes. He will likely pair with Matt Gzelcyk in the third defensive pairing.
The Hurricanes feature no Wolverine players, but former Michigan goaltender L.J. Scarpace (‘00) is in his second season Carolina’s video coach. Prior to joining Carolina, Scarpace worked under Red Berenson for 13 seasons in Ann Arbor, serving as video coordinator from 2004-2013, and Director of Player Development from 2014-2017.
Boston and Carolina open their series Thursday night (8 ET, NBCSN) in Beantown as the Bruins chase their third Stanley Cup final appearance since 2011, the Hurricanes are trying to return to the Final for the first time since 2011.