Carolina Hurricanes vs. Boston Bruins: Stanley Cup Playoff preview and picks
Carolina Hurricanes: 1st Metropolitan Division, 116 points
Boston Bruins: Wildcard #1, 107 points
Monday, May 2, 7 p.m.: Boston at Carolina (ESPN, SN360, TVA Sports)
Wednesday, May 4, 7 p.m.: Boston at Carolina (ESPN, SN360, TVA Sports)
Friday, May 6, 7 p.m.: Caroline in Boston (TNT, SN360, TVA Sports)
Sunday, May 8, 12:30 p.m.: Caroline in Boston (ESPN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports)
*Tuesday, May 10, to be determined: Boston at Carolina (to be determined)
*Thursday, May 12, to be determined: Caroline in Boston (to be determined)
*Saturday May 14, to be determined: Boston at Carolina (TBD)
Twice in the past three years, the Bruins have ended Carolina’s playoff hopes, so there’s some payback narrative for a Hurricanes team that won back-to-back division titles for the first time in the league. history of the franchise. It’s a fourth straight playoff appearance for the Hurricanes under head coach (and reigning Jack Adams Award winner) Rod Brind’Amour, also first in the franchise. The Bruins, meanwhile, are trying to challenge Father Time and take advantage of future Hall of Famer Patrice Bergeron and possibly Hall of Famer Brad Marchand before time runs out on that core. The fact that Bergeron, 36 and in the final year of his current contract, hasn’t discussed his future plans adds a little more urgency and emotion to this playoff year for the Bruins.
Yeah, regular season means nothing except it does, especially when you outscore the opponent 16-1 like Carolina did in Boston this season. That didn’t eliminate previous playoff losses in 2019 and 2020, but it should give the Hurricanes at least some swagger going into Game 1 at the PNC Arena in Raleigh on Monday night.
The top five scorers
Sebastien Aho: 81 points
Andrei Svechnikov: 69 points
Teuvo Teravainen: 65 points
Tony DeAngelo: 51 points
Vincent Trocheck: 51 points
Brad Marchand: 80 points
David Pastrnak: 77 points
Patrice Bergeron: 65 points
Hall Taylor: 61 points
Charlie McAvoy: 56 points
A few things come to mind in regards to special teams and how they might impact this series. First, Boston’s power play was a big draw and, in fact, he was 29th in the league since the trade deadline, although a week ago he was 31st, reflecting the return from injury of David Pastrnak and Hampus Lindholm. But the Hurricanes have the best penalty kill in the NHL and there was little hesitation in this group from start to finish. Carolina, however, has struggled all year on penalties, and for a team that has the puck as often as the Canes, they have the league’s 31st penalty differential at minus-46. It’s mind-boggling, but it’s a team that ranks 26and in the league in minor penalties taken, and it’s not like they’ve solved the problem, because they’ve been tied for 27and from the trade deadline. Interesting note: Boston leads the league in minor penalties given since the trade deadline in late March. Carolina’s power play, in the top 10 for most of the season, ranks 23rd since expiration. So this streak can determine which of these two unruly teams can stay out of the box and which of these teams can launch their power play and win the special teams battle.
We can’t just look at the numbers when it comes to the offense of the Bruins, who were in the middle of the pack in goals per game after the trade deadline but were without Pastrnak for part of that time and, well, it’s really good. Pastrnak played with Taylor Hall and Erik Haula and the trio was excellent. This allowed head coach Bruce Cassidy to keep Jake DeBrusk (remember when everyone, including DeBrusk, was in a rush to find him a new home?) with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Now, how long does it last in the post-season? We’ll see. The Canes, on the other hand, have been pretty consistent all year. Yes, they have top-notch skills, with Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen combining for 89 goals, but it’s all about the collective in Carolina, which had five players with 20 or more goals and two more, rookie Seth Jarvis and Captain Jordan Staal. , at 17 years old.
Both teams are well trained and give up very little. The Hurricanes have allowed the fewest goals of any team this NHL season, and since the trade deadline, Carolina was third in the league in goals against while Boston was fourth. The Bruins’ addition of Lindholm at the deadline was key to relieving some of the pressure on McAvoy, who we had a No. 1 on our Norris Trophy ballot a year ago and who carried his playing at an elite level over the past two years. seasons.
The Carolina Hurricanes won the William Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals in the league. And yet the two main goalkeepers, Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta, were both injured down the stretch and there is now an outside chance that unheralded rookie Pyotr Kochetkov will get the Game 1 start for the Hurricanes. or a glimpse at some point in the series. How crazy is that? But the 22-year-old turned it on in the Kontinental Hockey League, turned it on in the American Hockey League and is now 3-0 as a Hurricane. Raanta, who has never started an NHL playoff game, will support if Kochetkov gets the start and has been excellent the past half of the season. The Bruins will also go with a playoff rookie (Linus Ullmark has never played in an NHL playoff game and Jeremy Swayman played 18:34 last year in a relief role) and there has been debate. underway to find out if Cassidy will go with Swayman or Ullmark. Both had long stretches of impressive play, although we’d nod to Ullmark, who has been exceptional after returning from injury in early April. Given the dynamics, it won’t be at all surprising to see either or both coaches making serial goalkeeping moves.
As we noted, both teams have been healthy in recent days with Raanta and Jesperi Kotkaniemi back in action and Lindholm and Pastrnak back in Boston. Andersen hadn’t returned to the ice to treat his knee injury, so it’s hard to imagine he counts for the first round.
We pointed out that many teams need to kill their own personal demon team before they can reach the top. Washington had to somehow beat Pittsburgh before winning its first Cup in 2018. The Bolts were swept by Columbus in 2019, then beat the Blue Jackets en route to their first of two consecutive Cups in 2020. Boston is that team for the Hurricanes? Or is the prospect that it might be the case for Bergeron (let’s say it isn’t, Patrice) enough to propel the Bruins forward in search of another shot at glory?
CONSENSUS SERIES PREDICTION
Carolina’s balanced offense will be too much for the Bruins to contain. Hurricanes in xxx
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