The return of the NHL is quickly approaching and here at TXHT we will be breaking down all of the play in and round robin series for you all before the action kicks off on August 1st. The New York Rangers, the 11th seed in the Eastern Conference, will play the Carolina Hurricanes, the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, in one of the play in best-of-five series. This is going to be a dogfight for both squads as they both have some advantages over the other but one squad does come out with a slight edge. Let’s jump in.
The Rangers possess some superstar forwards in Artemiy Panarin and Mika Zibanejad. Those two lead the forward corps that features Ryan Strome, Chris Kreider, Pavel Buchnevich, Kaapo Kakko and Filip Chytil. Depth guys like Brenden Lemieux, Brett Howden, Jesper Fast and Julien Gauthier round their group out. Look for Vitali Kravtsov, picked 9th overall in 2018, to make a big push to make the roster.
The Hurricanes features a powerhouse top line of Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Andrei Svechnikov. They are easily the three most talented forwards on the Hurricanes and they have great chemistry together. The forward groups rounds out with Vincent Trocheck, Jordan Staal, Nino Niederreiter, Martin Necas, Justin Williams, Ryan Dzingel, Brock McGinn and Warren Foegele. Morgan Geekie, who scored four points in two games prior to the break could provide some nice secondary scoring and be a nice surprise for the team.
So who gets the edge here? It’s tough to say. While Carolina certainly has the more balanced attack, the Rangers do possess higher end forwards than the Hurricanes do. Artemiy Panarin and Mika Zibanejad are superstars. Panarin is the best overall player in this series Sebastian Aho is a superstar but his winger aren’t quite at his level. Trocheck, Necas, Niederreiter and other ensure than Carolina has a deeper forward group with more experience by the Rangers have some rookies in Kaapo Kakko, Filip Chytil and potentially Vitali Kravtsov, who are all full of potential. Kakko especially will be looked upon to provide some scoring. Look for a nice battle between the second overall picks in 2018 and 2019 in Svechnikov and Kakko to see who will make the biggest impact.
If the Hurricanes are unable to contain Panarin and Zibanejad, this series will get ugly fast. If the Rangers defense can’t deal with the balanced and consistent attacks of the Hurricanes than this will be a short series as well. Most likely, both groups of forwards will have big moments and it’s going to be an absolute dogfight.
Ever so slightly, this edge goes to the New York Rangers. Artemiy Panarin is one of the best forwards in the entire NHL and can win MVP this year with how well he played. 95 points in 69 games. He is a bonafide gamebreaker and his play along with the goal scoring ability of Mika Zibaejad, the speed of Chris Kreider and the possible breakout of Kaapo Kakko give the Rangers the slight edge over the Hurricanes in the forward group.
The Rangers have a nice young budding group of defenseman but they are outmatched here by the Hurricanes combination of skill and depth. Adam Fox had a calder caliber season and Tony DeAngelo, who broke out as one of the best offensive dmen in the league are really good and Jacob Trouba provides some great stay at home work but the combination of Dougie Hamilton, Jaccob Slavin, Joel Edmundson, Jake Bean, Jake Gardiner, Brady Skjei etc. push the Hurricanes over the top here. From top to bottom, the Hurricanes have the stronger defense of the two teams.
At this point, the Rangers have three really good dmen, one still finding his way in Ryan Lindgren and two past their primes in Brenden Smith and Marc Staal. The Hurricanes from top to bottom just have the better depth. Hamilton was on pace for his first Norris Trophy. Slavin is one of the best in the game and has been underappreciated for years. Edmundson is a Stanley Cup champion. Bean is a great young up and comer. Gardiner has great offensive instinct and Skjei in a lesser role can be effective.
The Hurricanes and it’s not close.
Igor Shesterkin, Henrik Lundqvist and Alexandar Georgiev. The three headed monster of the New York Rangers. All three can win games, all three can come up clutch and all three are more capable than anyone the Hurricanes have. Shesterkin is the new franchise goaltender for the Rangers and had a 10-2 record after being recalled from the American Hockey League this season. He set all kinds of records overseas and it’s his time to lead the Rangers into the future. Lundqvist, the future first ballot hall of famer, has led the Rangers for the past 15 seasons and you can look to him to jump in if Shesterkin falters. Georgiev is another fantastic young goaltender who the Rangers can also choose to lean on if they wish.
Petr Mrazek, Alex Nedeljkovic, James Reimer and Anton Forsberg just don’t match up to the quality goaltending the Rangers have. All four are of course NHL caliber goalies and can steal you a game here and there but none have the type of consistency the Rangers goalies have. Nedeljkovic is the Hurricanes future in net but he isn’t there yet.
Rangers and by a lot.
This is going to be an incredibly close series. The firepower of the Rangers meets the imposing defense of the Hurricanes. After taking in all the facts about both teams, the way they play and the history between them: The New York Rangers take this series in five games and advance.