Eastern Conference Final Preview: Atlantic #2 Bruins vs. Metropolitan #4 Hurricanes

Gregg Forweck:Getty ImagesPhoto: Gregg Forweck/Getty Images

The Boston Bruins, who finished the regular season with the second-most points in the  NHL (107), and the Carolina Hurricanes, who finished as the first wild-card in the Eastern Conference with 99 points, will face one another in the 2019 Eastern Conference Final. This will be the third series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the two teams. After the Bruins won the 1999 Conference Quarterfinal in six games, the Hurricanes returned the favor with a seven-game victory in the 2009 Conference Semifinal. The series will start on Thursday night at 8 PM ET (can be seen on NBCSN) from TD Garden. The remainder of the schedule will be announced later.

The Hurricanes ousted the defending Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals in seven games in Round 1 before they swept the reigning champion head coach Barry Trotz and the New York Islanders in Round 2.

The Bruins defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in a seven-game series in the First Round and the Columbus Blue Jackets in a six-game series in the second.

Regular Season Recap

The Bruins went 2-1-0 against the Hurricanes while the Hurricanes went 1-1-1 against Boston in 2018-19. The Bruins won 3-2 at PNC Arena on October 30 and 4-3 in overtime at TD Garden on March 5. The Hurricanes took a 5-3 decision in Raleigh on December 23.

Team Leaders
Bruins

Regular Season
Goals: David Pastrnak (38)
Assists: Brad Marchand (64)
Points: Marchand (100)
Plus-Minus: Patrice Bergeron (+23)

Stanley Cup Playoffs
Goals: Pastrnak (6)
Assists: Marchand (8)
Points: Marchand (13)
Plus-Minus: Zdeno Chara (+9)

Hurricanes

Regular Season
Goals: Sebastian Aho (30)
Assists: Teuvo Teravainen (55)
Points: Aho (83)
Plus-Minus: Brett Pesce (+35)

Stanley Cup Playoffs
Goals: Teravainen (6)
Assists: Jaccob Slavin (11)
Points: Slavin (11)
Plus-Minus: Slavin (+8)

Team Stats
Regular Season
Goals-Per-Game:                    Bruins – 3.34 (5th)                    Hurricanes – 2.96 (16th)
Goals-Against Per Game:     Bruins – 3.02 (17th)                  Hurricanes – 2.70 (T-tth)
Power Play:                            Bruins – 25.9% (3rd)                Hurricanes – 17.8% (20th)
Penalty Kill:                           Bruins – 79.9% (T-16th)            Hurricanes – 81.6% (8th)
Home Record:                       Bruins – 29-9-3                           Hurricanes – 24-13-4
Away Record:                        Bruins – 20-15-6                        Hurricanes – 22-16-3
Stanley Cup Playoffs
Goals-Per-Game:                    Bruins – 3.08 (T-3rd)              Hurricanes – 3.09 (2d)
Goals-Against Per Game:     Bruins – 2.15 (1st)                   Hurricanes – 2.27 (2d)
Power Play:                            Bruins – 28.6% (1st)                Hurricanes – 10.5% (14th)
Penalty Kill:                           Bruins – 83.8% (24th)              Hurricanes – 75% (13th)
Home Record:                       Bruins – 4-3                               Hurricanes – 6-0
Away Record:                        Bruins – 4-2                              Hurricanes – 3-3

X-Factors
Charlie Coyle: Since being acquired from the Minnesota Wild at the NHL Trade Deadline, the 27-year old recorded two goals, six points, and a -2 rating in 21 regular season games. Coyle has been a key contributor for the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, tallying five goals, eight points, and a +3 rating in 13 games.

Warren Foegele: After posting 10 goals, 15 points, and a -17 rating in 77 regular season games, the 23-year old rookie has been a breakout star during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. His five goals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs are second on the Hurricanes behind Teravainen, while his nine points are tied with Teravainen for second on the team behind Slavin’s 11.

Goaltender Matchup
Goaltender Petr Mrazek, who went 23-14-3 with a .914 save percentage, a 2.29 goals-against average, and four shutouts this season, will likely start the series for Carolina. In nine career regular season games against the Bruins, the 27-year old is 4-2-1 with an .888 save percentage and a 3.09 goals-against average. Backup Curtis McElhinney went 20-11-2 with a .912 save percentage, a 2.58 goals-against average, and two shutouts in the regular season. McElhinney has posted a 2-3-1 record against the Bruins, with a .907 save percentage, a 2.83 goals-against average, and one shutout.

Mrazek is 4-6 with a .927 save percentage, a 1.98 goals-against average, and three shutouts in 11 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, including a 5-3 record this season with a .913 save percentage, a 2.22 goals-against average, and two shutouts. Mrazek left Game 2 against the Islanders with a lower-body injury and has not played since, but he has practiced with the team and could play in Game 1 on Thursday. McElhinney is 3-1 with a .917 save percentage and a 2.30 goals-against average in his postseason career, including 3-0 with a .947 save percentage and a 1.56 goals-against average during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Goaltender Tuukka Rask, who went 27-13-5 this season with a .912 save percentage, a 2.48 goals-against average, and four shutouts, will man the nets for the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final. In 17 career regular season appearances against Carolina, the 32-year old is 9-4-3 with a .928 save percentage and a 2.27 goals-against average.

In 78 career postseason appearances, Rask is 43-35 with a .927 save percentage, a 2.21 goals-against average, and six shutouts.  This year, Rask is 8-5 in the postseason with a .938 save percentage, a 2.02 goals-against average, and one shutout this postseason.

Back-up goaltender Jaroslav Halak went 22-11-4 with a .922 save percentage, a 2.34 goals-against average, and five shutouts during the regular season. He has a 5-6-1 record against Carolina, with a .916 save percentage, a 2.82 goals-against average, and one shutout in his career. He has gone 13-15 with a .924 save percentage and a 2.39 goals-against average in his Stanley Cup Playoff career.

Projected Game 1 Lineups
Hurricanes
Warren Foegele — Sebastian Aho — Justin Williams
Nino Niederreiter — Jordan Staal — Teuvo Teravainen
Andrei Svechnikov — Lucas Wallmark — Michael Ferland
Jordan Martinook — Greg McKegg — Brock McGinn
Jaccob Slavin — Dougie Hamilton
Brett Pesce — Justin Faulk
Calvin de Haan — Haydn Fleury
Petr Mrazek
Curtis McElhinney

Injured: Defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk (upper-body), Center Saku Maenalenen (upper-body)

Bruins
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk — David Krejci — David Backes
Marcus Johansson — Charlie Coyle — Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom — Sean Kuraly — Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara — Steven Kampfer
Torey Krug — Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk — John Moore
Tuukka Rask
Jaroslav Halak

Injured: Kevan Miller (lower-body)
Suspended: Charlie McAvoy (one game)

Bruins’ Keys To The Series

  • Star Power: The Bruins have a lot more big names on their team than the Hurricanes do as they have three players who already have at least 10 points in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (Marchand, Pastrnak: 11, and center David Krejci: 10) while the Hurricanes have one (Slavin: 11). Slavin has not recorded a goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs yet. The Bruins’ top players will have to show up, and if they do it’s going to be very tough for the Hurricanes to match.
  • Special Teams: The Bruins’ 28.6% efficiency on the power-play is first in the Stanley Cup Playoffs while their 83.8% penalty-killing efficiency is first among remaining teams. On the other side, the Hurricanes’ 10.5% power-play efficiency is the worst among remaining teams while their 75% penalty-killing rate is tied for the worst among remaining teams with the St. Louis Blues. If the Bruins dominate the special teams battle, it will put Carolina in a really tough spot.
  • Get Shots To The Net: The Hurricanes’ average of 27.8 shots-against per game is the second-lowest in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (Tampa Bay Lightning: 27) and the lowest among teams remaining. Carolina’s stingy defense is backed by solid goaltending as Mrazek and McElhinney have a combined save percentage of .930 in the postseason. The Bruins have done a good job of putting the puck on net during the first two rounds, averaging 35.7 shots-per-game. The Nashville Predators were first with an average of 36.3.

Hurricanes’ Keys To The Series

  • Home Ice: The Hurricanes are 5-0 at PNC Arena this offseason, outscoring the Capitals and Islanders by a combined score of 22-7. The Raleigh crowd is crazy and it’s been easy for the Hurricanes to get the momentum going. Carolina will have to take advantage of their home ice as they will not have home-ice advantage in this series.
  • Shut Down Bruins’ Top-Line: The Bruins’ top trio of Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak have combined for 32 points in 13 games this postseason after each averaged at least a point per game during the regular season. The line struggled to produce at the beginning of their series with the Blue Jackets but combined for six goals and 14 points in the final three games of the series. The Hurricanes have to weather that top-line as the series progresses, something that the Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets have failed to do.
  • Pressure Bruins’ Defense: The Bruins are the stingiest team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with an average of 2.15 goals-against per game (first) and an 83.8% penalty-killing efficiency (first among remaining teams). Possessing the puck and making plays against the Bruins’ defense will be critical for them, especially in Game 1 on Thursday since McAvoy will be out due to suspension.

Playoff Experience

Williams entered the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs having played in 140 playoff games in his career, including Stanley Cups with Carolina and the Los Angeles Kings. Hamilton has 23 postseason contests under his belt while Ferland has 13 games. While Staal had not appeared in any postseason contest since 2012, he had played in 73 playoff games in his career and won a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009. Niederreiter played in 39 playoff games in the past five seasons, while Mrazek had 10 postseason games under his belt. Teravainen and Van Riemsdyk won the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015.

The Bruins’ roster is full of Stanley Cup experience and includes five players who were on Boston’s Stanley Cup-winning team in 2011. Forward Joakim Nordstrom won the Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015. Kampfer has just one game of experience in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Bruins.

How They’re Entering The Series

After finishing the regular season with a 6-4-0 record in their last 10 and 30-12-2 in their last 44, the Hurricanes have won six straight games and eight of their last nine in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Bruins also went 6-4-0 in their final 10 regular season games and have won three straight games and five of their last seven in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

WHO YA GOT?

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
This entry was posted in News, NHL, Playoffs, Teams and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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