Eastern Conference Finals
Carolina Hurricanes v. Boston Bruins
Regular Season Series:
CAR 1-0-1 (Playoffs 8-3)
BOS 2-1-0 (Playoffs 8-5)
How they got here:
Carolina defeated the Washington Capitals 4-3 in the first round, and then swept the New York Islanders 4-0 in the second round.
Boston defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 in the first round, and then defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2 in the second round.
A Deeper Look at the Series:
For the Carolina Hurricanes this postseason they had a lot of players playing in the playoffs for the first time in their careers, and outside of the veteran leadership of Jordan Staal and Justin Williams they have also received contributions from their young stars of Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho. The biggest surprise this season has been the rise of rookie forward Warren Foegele who has recorded 5 goals and 4 assists for 9 points in the postseason so far.
For the veteran Boston Bruins they have received contributions from all of their top players including Brad Marchand who leads the way with 5 goals and 8 assists for 13 points this postseason. However, despite their contributions this postseason, the Columbus Blue Jackets last round showed how you can keep the top players of the Bruins quite for an extended amout of time throughout the series. Unfortunately for the Blue Jackets they faltered near the end and the likes of Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak would take over and lead the Bruins back to the Eastern Conference Finals.
On defense for the Hurricanes they have been lead quietly by Jaccob Slavin who leads the team in points with 11 this postseason, but all 11 points have been assists for Slavin and it has shown as he has been a jolt for kick startig the Hurricanes offense. The Hurricanes have also gained contributions from Dougie Hamilton, Justin Faulk and Brett Pesce who combined have 19 points (4 goals and 15 assists) this postseason. With these four players firing on all cylinders, it makes the Hurricanes defense a dangerous one to contain in regards to moving the play up the ice and into the offensive zone.
The Bruins major contributions offensively have come from Torey Krug (1 goal and 8 points) and Charlie McAvoy (1 goal and 6 points) from the blueline, but their overall core which is lead by captain Zdeno Chara has been solid throughout the majority of these playoffs. However, going into Game 1 the Bruins will be without McAvoy who will be serving a ome game suspension for his hit to the head of Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson in Game 7 last round, so the Bruins are going to need to step up in his absence for Game 1.
For the Hurricanes they have relied on both of their horses from the regular season in Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney. Mrazek, who is the team’s number one goaltender has a 5-3 record with a 2.22 GAA and a .913 save percentage, while McElhinney has a 3-0 record with a 1.56 GAA and a .947 save percentage since coming in when Mrazek went down with a lower body injury. The Hurricanes hope to have Mrazek between the pipes for Game 1, but McElhinney is ready to answer the call when needed.
For the Bruins they have their stalwart Tuukka Rask who in these playoffs have an 8-5 record with a 2.02 GAA and a .938 save percentage as he has been the backbone for the Bruins this postseason.
Goaltending will be one of the biggest keys this series, and could also be the determining factor.
CAR – PP 17.8% PK 81.6%
BOS – PP 25.9% PK 79.9%
For special teams this could be considered a wash as both teams are on the opposite end of the spectrum in regards to powerplay and penalty kill. During the regular season the Bruins had a better powerplay, but on the penalty kill the Hurricanes were the better team. One edge I would give to the Hurricanes would be their penalty kill as seeing it in person, against the Bruins for Hartford Whalers Night, they utilize their young, fast players along with their grizzled defenders to kill penalties, and with players like Teravainen and Aho on the kill that can score shorthanded, that can give the Hurricanes a slight edge.
Prediction: CAR in 6
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