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May 9, 2019
By Frank Ammirante

2018-19 Carolina Hurricanes & Boston Bruins Season Series Recap

October 30, 2018 BOS 4 CAR 3 (OT)
December 23, 2018 CAR 5 BOS 3
March 5, 2019 CAR 2 BOS 3

NHL Eastern Conference Finals Series Matchups

Forward Groups

Carolina Hurricanes Even Strength Forward Lines

Svechnikov-Aho-Teravainen
Niederreiter-Staal-Williams
Foegele-Wallmark-McGinn
Martinook-McKegg-Brown

Boston Bruins Even Strength Forward Lines

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak
DeBrusk-Krejci-Backes
Johansson-Coyle-Heinen
Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

The Hurricanes have received balanced scoring throughout the postseason; four of their leading forward scorers are tied with 9 points (Teuvo Teravainen, Warren Foegele, Jordan Staal, and Sebastian Aho). The Canes will get a boost with the return of rookie sniper Andrei Svechnikov, who missed two of the four games in the series vs. the Islanders. The five-day break will help him in his recovery. The Bruins have the top line in hockey with Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. This line has combined to produce 16 of the Bruins 32 goals this postseason. The Bruins have also received contributions from secondary pieces, such as David Krejci (4G 6A) and Charlie Coyle (5G 3A). This is important because it allows Bergeron to be deployed in a shutdown role to help neutralize the top opposing forwards. The Bruins have strong forward depth which will be a test for the Carolina defense.

VERDICT: While the Canes have balanced scoring, the Bruins have the stronger group of forwards overall, with the top line in the NHL complemented by a strong supporting cast that includes veterans like David Krejci, as well as promising young players like Jake DeBrusk.

ADVANTAGE: Boston Bruins

Defensive Pairings

Carolina Hurricanes Defensive Pairings

Slavin-Hamilton
Pesce-Faulk
Fleury-De Haan

Boston Bruins Defensive Pairings

Chara-McAvoy
Krug-Carlo
Grzelcyk-Clifton

The Carolina Hurricanes have one of the best defense corps in the NHL. The 2019 Playoffs have been a coming out party for Jaccob Slavin, who was always known as a strong defenseman but is now solidifying himself as one of the best blueliners in the entire league. Slavin has logged heavy icetime for the ‘Canes, averaging 26:40 minutes throughout this postseason. He has racked up 11 assists in their 11 games. Brett Pesce has also been strong on the back end. Dougie Hamilton and Justin Faulk are strong puck-movers who are dangerous on the powerplay. Calvin de Haan is also a solid shutdown defenseman. The Canes will miss the presence of Trevor van Riemsdyk, who is out for the remainder of the playoffs. The Bruins also have a strong defense corps, with stalwarts like Torey Krug and young upstarts like Charlie McAvoy. These playoffs have also been a coming out party for Brandon Carlo, who has averaged 23:02 minutes as a shutdown defenseman. Grzelcyk is also an underrated option for the B’s on the back end. Zdeno Chara is a point of weakness for Boston, as he can be easily exposed by the speed of the young Carolina forwards. It is also important to note that Charlie McAvoy will be suspended for Game 1 – Carlo and Krug will have to step up in his absence.

VERDICT: Both teams have great defense, but the Canes are a bit better overall. Jaccob Slavin is the best blueliner of the two groups and Carolina has more talent from top to bottom. Zdeno Chara will be an area of weakness for Boston here.

ADVANTAGE: Carolina Hurricanes

Special Teams

Carolina HurricanesPowerplay

PP1
Aho-Staal-Williams
Teravainen-Faulk

PP2
Svechnikov-Wallmark-Niederreiter
Slavin-Hamilton

BruinsPowerplay

PP1
Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak
Krug-DeBrusk

PP2
Johansson-Krejci-Coyle
Grzelcyk-McAvoy

During the 2018-19 NHL season, the Canes ranked 20th in the league with a 17.8% PP success rate, while the Bruins ranked 3rd at 25.9%. In the playoffs, Carolina has gone 4-38 on PPs for a dismal rate of 10.5%, ranking 14th of 16 playoff teams, while Boston has converted PPs at a rate of 28.6%, scoring goals on 10 of 35 chances, good for 1st out of all playoff teams. On the PK, the Canes ranked 8th with an 81.6% success rate during the season, while the Bruins came in at 16th with a 79.9% success rate. In the playoffs, the Canes have killed 75% of penalties, good for 12th out of 16. The Bruins have been better on the PK, with a success rate 83.8%, ranking 6th out of 16.

VERDICT: Boston has a significant advantage on special teams coming into this series. The Hurricanes will have to improve on the PP and PK, or they could be in big trouble this series.

ADVANTAGE: Boston Bruins

Goaltending

Carolina Hurricanes

Petr Mrazek
Season: 23-14-3, 2.39GAA, .914SV%, 4SO
Playoffs: 5-2-1, 2.22GAA, .913SV%, 2SO

Curtis McElhinney
Season: 20-11-2, 2.58GAA, .912SV%, 2SO
Playoffs: 3-0-0, 1.56GAA, .947SV%, 0SO

Boston Bruins

Tuukka Rask
Season: 27-13-5, 2.48GAA, .912SV%, 4SO
Playoffs: 8-4-1, 2.02GAA, .938SV%, 1SO

Jaroslav Halak
Season: 22-11-4, 2.34GAA, .922SV%, 5SO
Playoffs: N/A

Mrazek and McElhinney have done a great job holding down the fort between the pipes behind this talented Canes’ blueline. Rask had a disappointing season by his standards, but he has really come on in the playoffs, especially in the last 3 games, where he has stopped 111 out of his last 115 shots (.965SV%). Halak is a capable backup with playoff experience, providing the B’s with insurance should Rask struggle.

VERDICT: While the Carolina tandem has exceeded expectations, they are not on the same level as Rask. It does not bode well for Carolina that Rask has found his form in the playoffs, especially with their struggling powerplay.

ADVANTAGE: Boston Bruins

Final Thoughts

Both teams are coming into this series red-hot, with the Canes having won 6 in a row dating back to the Caps series and the Bruins winning their last 3 against Columbus. Carolina has had a long layoff between games, which favours the Bruins, since I think that the Canes will come out rusty. The Bruins advantages in special teams and goaltending along with their superior playoff experience makes them likely to take care of business in this series.

PREDICTION: Bruins in 5

Playing Game One On www.statementgames.com?  My Top THREE Picks!   

  • BOS Starter OVER .917 Save %Age (Tuukka Rask Projected)
    Rask comes into this series on fire, having stopped 111 of the last 115 shots (.965SV%).
  • Carolina Hurricanes UNDER 0.5 Power Play Goal
    The Canes have struggled on the PP with a success rate of only 10.5%.
  • Boston Bruins will win by OVER 1.5 Goals
    I think that the Canes will come out rusty after a long layoff.
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