Carolina Hurricanes (46-29-7 99pts) v. Washington Capitals (48-26-8 104pts)
Regular Season Series:
For the first time in both franchise’s history, the Washington Capitals will face the Carolina Huuricanes in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. For the Capitals they will be looking to defend the title as Stanley Cup Champions and are looking to this series as the beginning of their championship defense.
Meanwhile for the Hurricanes, they will be participating in the playoffs for the first time since 2009. The Hurricanes will be looking to replicate past successes when the team has made it into the playoffs, and view the Capitals as a solid test as to what they are made of going into this playoff run.
For the Hurricanes they had five 20 goal scorers with only one of them hitting the 30 goal mark and that being Sebastian Aho. Compare this to the Capitals who have seven 20 goal scorers, with one 50 goal scorer in Alex Ovechkin, the Capitals are a bit deeper than the Hurricanes are in regards to scoring depth, but it will be a matter of sysytems that will dictate how much scoring will happen in this series.
For defense, both teams will be looking to play responsible hockey in both the neutral zone and in their own zones. The last two games these two had against eachother, both teams played defensively responsible, but it would the Capitals high powered offense eventually pushing through for victories in both games.
Key players that both teams will be looking to to have an impact in these playoffs will be Dougie Hamilton and Justin Faulk for the Hurricanes, and John Carlson for the Capitals. With Michal Kempny out until next season, the Capitals will be looking to both Christian Djoos and Jonas Siegenthaler to step up in Kempny’s absence.
For the Capitals, Braden Holtby will be tasked once again to carry the Capitals to the promised land. This time though Holtby will be starting the series instead of his backup like last postseason.
For the Hurricanes, they have a one-two punch in Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney. While Mrazek is slated to be the starting goalie for this series, McElhinney can steal some games if called upon.
CAR Powerplay: 17.8% 20th Overall
WAS Powerplay: 20.8% 12th Overall
The 2018-19 season was a dip in the Capitals powerplay, despite a hot start to the season. However, the Capitals were able to remain consistent throughout the season despite drought spurts.
For the Hurricanes they were right around everyone expected them to be this season despite the dangerous duo of Aho and Teuvo Teravainen.
CAR Penalty Kill: 81.6% 8th Overall
WAS Penalty Kill: 78.9% 24th Overall
This season under first time head coach Rod Brind’Amour, the Hurricanes were able to improve on their penalty kill, and the use of both Aho and Teravainen brought speed to the penalty kill unit.
However, for the Capitals they dropped excessively this season after the departure of Barry Trotz and Lane Lambert. Also the loss of Jay Beagle during the offseason took away one of their biggest faceoff threats. The Capitals can get hot with their penalty killing as we have seen at times this season, but they need it to be consistent throughout the entire series and playoffs.
Prediction: WAS in 6