Sports

2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Hurricanes vs. Bruins first-round preview

(1M) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (WC1) Boston Bruins

Hurricanes: 54-20-8, 116 points

Bruins: 51-26-5, 107 points

season-series: RAC 3-0-0; BOSS 0-3-0

Match 1: Monday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, BSSO, NESN, SN360, TVAS)

For the third time in four seasons, the Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins will meet in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and this time the Hurricanes believe they can emerge the victors.

Of course, so do the Bruins.

The teams first faced off in the postseason in 2018-19, when the Bruins swept the Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final, on their way to losing the Stanley Cup Final in seven games to the St. Louis Blues. It was clear then that the Bruins were the better team.

They faced off again in the 2019-20 playoffs, with Boston taking the first-round series in five games, and did not meet last season when each team lost in the second round. Carolina lost in five games to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Boston in six games to the New York Islanders.

Over the past three seasons, the Hurricanes have steadily improved to where they are now a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.

This season they finished with the second-highest point total in the Eastern Conference and the third-highest in the NHL. The Florida Panthers (122 points) and the Colorado Avalanche (119 points) are the only teams with more.

“One of the things I love about the group is they all want to win but they hate losing more than they like winning,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “I think we’ve had some losses, some tough losses, in the playoffs. I think that’s a motivator, for sure. … They know where we want to get to.”

[RELATED: Complete Hurricanes vs Bruins series coverage]

The series will pitch two staunch defenses against each other, with the Hurricanes first in the NHL in goals against per game (2.44) and the Bruins fourth (2.66). But there is a significant caveat there: Carolina could be missing its starting goalie, frederik andersenwho sustained a lower-body injury April 16 against the Colorado Avalanche.

Andersen went 35-14-3 with a 2.17 goals-against average, .922 save percentage and four shutouts in 52 games (51 starts), and his performance was crucial to the success of the team. Antti Raantawith whom Andersen won the William M. Jennings Trophy given to the goalies who play a minimum of 25 games for the team allowing the fewest goals during the regular season, and rookie Pyotr Kochetkov will man the net until Andersen is ready to return.

“Freddie is doing everything that we’ve asked him to do and more,” Carolina general manager Don Waddell said Friday. “He’s working out daily. He hasn’t been on the ice yet, so there’s no timetable until he gets on the ice.

“We’re not hanging our hat. We’ll be ready to roll with whoever that guy is that gets the call for Game 1.”

The Bruins will be equally inexperienced in goal, with a decision between either Linus Ulmark or jeremy swayman possibly coming game by game.

But whichever goalie is in net for either team, it should be a good matchup despite Carolina dominating the regular-season series. The Hurricanes defeated the Bruins 3-0 on Oct. 28, 7-1 on Jan. 18, and 6-0 on Feb. 10.

“Strong team, obviously,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. “They had their way with us this year. Some of that was a while ago, and I think our team is in a much better place than when we played them earlier in the year. So, we’re not going to take too much stock in that

“We have had success against them in the playoffs recently and, again, two different teams, so you can’t take too much stock in that either.”

It’s a new season and a new series, and both teams are happy with what they bring to the table — and what the series might hold for them.

“We love what we have in there,” Boston forward charlie coyle said. “We’re really confident. We’re just itching to get going.”

game breakers

Hurricanes: forward sebastian aho you have become a certified star, a player who can do it all and often does. He is a speedy scoring threat with defensive ability and leadership, and he can break open a game and a series. The 24-year-old led the Hurricanes with 81 points (37 goals, 44 assists) in 79 games this season, just missing his NHL career high of 83 points set in 2018-19. But the way he has taken to the playoffs has been even more impressive, averaging more than a point per game, with 35 points (14 goals, 21 assists) in 34 career games, and consistently coming through — regular season and postseason — when the Hurricanes need a boost.

Bruins: forward David Pastrnack is all flash, from the suits he wears to how he can rip the puck, and when that flash is on, there’s almost no stopping him. Pastrnak didn’t approach the heights of two seasons ago, when he had 95 points and co-won the Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL’s top goal-scorer with 48 goals, but he did finish with 77 points (40 goals, 37 assists) in 72 games and hit the 40-goal mark for the second time in his career.

Video: BUF@BOS: Pastrnak slides in PPG

goaltending

Hurricanes: What was once a significant strength of the Hurricanes may no longer be true. Andersen is questionable for the start of the series, so it could be a combination of Raanta and Kochetkov in net. The veteran Raanta was 15-5-4 with a 2.45 GAA, .912 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games (26 starts) this season, and has played in five career playoff games, all in relief. Kochetkov, who was recalled from Chicago of the American Hockey League on April 18, made his NHL debut five days later and went 3-0-0, with a 2.42 GAA and .902 save percentage in three games (two starts).

Bruins: For the past decade, the Bruins have gone into the playoffs with one name written in permanent marker on the lineup card: Tuukka Rask. This season, Cassidy will be using pencil as he is expected to rely on his two goalies, Swayman and Ullmark. The goalies split starts this season, and performed nearly equally, leading to a postseason in which the net may be a game-to-game decision. Ullmark was 26-10-2 with a 2.45 GAA and .917 save percentage in 41 games (39 starts). Swayman was 23-14-3 with a 2.41 GAA and .914 save percentage in 41 games (39 starts).

numbers to know

Hurricanes: Carolina crushed the rest of the field on the penalty kill, leading the NHL at 88.0 percent. The team is led by defenseman Jacob Slavin, who played the second-most shorthanded minutes of anyone in the League at 255:00 (Andrew Peeke of the Columbus Blue Jackets is first at 264:10). Pair a red-hot goalie with a team full of PK buy-in, and you have a recipe for success.

Bruins: The Bruins’ power-play percentage was a respectable 21.2 percent this season, good for 15th in the NHL. But that hides the fact that Boston went through an 0-for-39 stretch before Pastrnak scored his 15th power-play goal, and 40th of the season, in a 5-0 win against the Buffalo Sabers on Thursday. Boston closed out the season going 1-for-1 with the man advantage on Friday in a 5-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

X factors

Hurricanes: Tony DeAngelo has been a perfect fit with the Hurricanes. The defenseman tied forward Vincent Trocheck for the fourth-most points on the team with 51 (10 goals, 41 assists) and even teammate Brendan Smith, who also played with DeAngelo for the New York Rangers, said recently, “He’s been our X-factor.” That should continue into the playoffs.

Bruins: Cassidy took a risk when he broke up his top line in January, moving Pastrnak down and searching for a right wing to fit with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. I found that player in Jake DeBrusk, who has a chance to be a real presence in the postseason. DeBrusk is getting the significant role he’s been dreaming of in Boston and has the results to back it up with 42 points (25 goals, 17 assists) in 77 games and finished tied with Bergeron for the third-most goals on the team. If he continues the way he’s been playing since February, he could be a better driver for the Bruins’ success.

they said it

“Every series, every round — if we can get going — is going to be tough. Maybe the toughest might be the first round.” — Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour

“We’re going to have to be good defensively. That’s really our identity. It’s not something that we have to change or do anything different, we just have to play that structure well. It’s fun. It’s fun shutting down other, especially our line. We’re an offensive line, but when we’re good in our end and we get pucks back, the sky’s the limit. I think our whole team kind of buys into that.” — Bruins forward taylor hall

Will win if…

Hurricanes: Their goaltending holds up. Whether Andersen makes it back in the first round or Carolina is forced to rely on the combination of Raanta and Kochetkov, goaltending will be key to whether Carolina can finally overcome the Bruins and advance into the second round.

Bruins: The Bruins can break offense. Boston is middle-of-the-pack when it comes to production, sitting 15th in the NHL at 3.09 goals per game. But they have the potential to go off, with a top-six that can make some noise in a playoff series. Should they get hot — especially on the power play — all bets are off.

how they look

Hurricanes projected lineup

Andrey Svechnikov –Sebastian Aho– Seth Jarvis

Max Domi –Vincent Trocheck– Teuvo Teravainen

Nino NiederreiterJordan StaalJesper Fast

Jordan MartinookJesperi KotkaniemiMartin Necas

Jacob Slavin – Tony DeAngelo

Brady SkheiBrett Pesce

Brendan Smith — Ian Cole

Pyotr Kochetkov

Antti Raanta

Scratched: Ethan Bear, Steven Lorentz, Derek Stepan

Injured: Frederik Andersen (lower body)

Bruins projected lineup

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Jake DeBrusk

Taylor Hall — Erik Haula –David Pastrnack

Trent Frederick –Charlie Coyle– Craig Smith

Nick FolignoThomas NosekCurtis Lazar

Hampus LindholmCharlie McAvoy

Matt GrzelcykBrandon Carlo

Derek ForbortConnor Clifton

Linus Ulmark

jeremy swayman

Scratched: Anton Blidh, jesper froden, Marc McLaughlin, Josh Brown, Mike Reily

.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button