Boston Bruins vs Carolina Hurricanes
The Road So Far…
- Defeated Toronto Maple Leafs 4 games to 3
- Leading scorers: Brad Marchand (9 points), David Pastrnak (6 points)
- Defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4 games to 3
- Leading scorers: David Pastrnak (5 points), David Krejci (5 points)
Bruins will win if:
- The “Perfection Line” continues its hot play. If the trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak continue to score in bunches, the Canes and probable goaltender Curtis McElhinney will have a hard time slowing down the Bruins.
- Tuukka Rask continues his hot play. The Bruins defeated the Blue Jackets, thanks in large part to Rask. He was nearly unbeatable posting a sterling .948 save percentage in the series. No matter how hard the Jackets tried, they could not solve the Finish netminder.
- Continue to get depth scoring from trade deadline acquisitions Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson. Combined, they amassed eight points over the course of the series. If they continue to perform, the Canes will have a hard time matching the depth the Bruins have.
The Road So Far…
- Defeated the Washington Capitals 4 games to 3
- Leading scorers: Jacob Slavin (9 points), Warren Foegele (6 points)
- Swept the New York Islanders
- Leading scorers: Teuvo Teravainen (5 points), Sebastian Aho (4 points)
Hurricanes will win if:
- They don’t change the way they have played throughout the playoffs. If the Canes continue to play the way they did in the second round, the Bruins will have a difficult time matching their work ethic.
- Curtis McElhinney continues to provide lights out goaltending. McElhinney entered the Islanders series after Petr Mrazek suffered a lower body injury. The Canes never missed a beat with him between the pipes. Curtis went on to post three wins along with a sterling .943 save percentage. If he continues that type of goaltending, the Bruins will have trouble scoring.
- They continue to get scoring from the backend. Throughout the playoffs, the defense has provided a lot of offense. Led by the underrated 24 year old Jacob Slavin, 26 year old Justin Faulk, and 25 year old Dougie Hamilton, the Canes have a young mobile defense that can put up a lot of points and move the puck with precision and fluidity. If they can continue that, there’s a good chance they win this series.
- They continue to get contributions from players young and old. It’s not only the young guns that are putting up points, it’s the grizzled vets as well. Both Justin Williams and Jordan Staal have also been clutch throughout the playoffs. Williams was instrumental in the winning goal in Game 7 in the first round and Staal has been a steady presence both offensively and defensively as well.
Series Deep Dive
If you talked to anyone at the beginning of the season, I don’t think you would have heard the “Carolina Hurricanes” in the same breath as the words “conference finals.” But here we are and the Don Cherry proclaimed “Bunch of Jerks” are four wins away from the Stanley Cup Finals. And they are doing it with hard work, perseverance, and a never say die attitude. The roster, iced by head coach Rod Brind’Amour, is very similar to the team captained by him back in 2002. Justin Williams has taken over the mantle and has led his team with the same character and clutch performances as his head coach.
Led also by a young core featuring 21 year old Sebastian Aho, 24 year old Teuvo Teravainen, and 22 year old Warren Foegele, the Canes are surprising everyone. Don’t count the “Bunch of Jerks” out, as they have been proving doubters wrong all season. First they knocked off the defending Stanley Cup champions Washington Capitals in the first round, which was no easy feat. Then came the New York Islanders, who swept the Penguins in the first round. They didn’t have any issues with them either, winning four games in a row to return the favor.
Their opponent is none other than the “Big Bad Bruins.” Fresh off a Game 7 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Bruins are looking to continue the momentum. The thing that could go against them is fatigue, as they have already played 14 games, while the Canes have only played 11. Rest could also be the enemy of the Hurricanes, as they have been off for quite a while. If the Bruins can continue to get clutch goaltending from Tuukka Rask, and scoring from the “Perfection Line,” they will be in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 2011, which coincidentally is also the last time they won Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Prediction: The “Bunch of Jerks” win in seven games.