The regular season is over, and it’s time for NHL Playoffs. Preview the Eastern conference and you see the strength they carry. All 8 teams from the East finished the regular season over 100 points. Let’s take a look at the first round matchups for the Metropolitan division. Hurricanes finished first in the division with 116 points, Rangers in second with 110, and the Penguins took third with 103. Boston will join their corner of the bracket from the Atlantic division as they took the 1st wild card slot.
Hurricanes (1M) vs Bruins (WC1)
Overall the regular season was a success for the Hurricanes. With some question marks about their goaltender situation after last season, they resolved that in the off season fairly easily. Finishing as the top team in the Metropolitan Division is no small accomplishment. However, the Hurricanes haven’t even made the Cup Finals since they won it in 2006. Coincidentally that’s when their now head coach Rod Brind’Amour was captain of the team. Keep an eye on Nino Niederreiter and Seth Jarvis as if they want to make a deep run they will need some scoring from their depth. Along with their potent offense, they are having success with Frederik Andersen in net, and will look to him to help make it to the Finals while Antti Raanta backs him up.
On the flip side, the Bruins didn’t have nearly as good of a season as they hoped for. At one point Tuukka Rask even flirted with a full comeback, but after seeing the play of Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark, he realized at his age he wouldn’t compete with those two. That goalie duo has some of the best chemistry you will see on the ice. With how their goalies are playing, and having a strong core of players who were on the ice for the 2019 Final, Boston poses as a possible threat.
Both teams carry a strong power play ability, currently sitting at 22% completion for the Hurricanes and 21.2% for the Bruins. Along with their power play, they both are similar rankings in penalty minutes as well. On paper they are a very similarly matched up. This game will come down to determination and depth scoring, and honestly home ice advantage. Both arenas are madness to play in, so good luck stealing one on the road.
My pick, Hurricanes in 6
Rangers (2M) vs Penguins (3M)
With just a few off season moves, the Rangers shifted from being a playoff hopeful to a possible contender. Their only concern should be seeing how Igor Shesterkin holds up in goal having yet to really have any playoff time. His single playoff game was in 2020 against Carolina in a loss. The positive note is that he has an impressive offense in front of him. With a 50 goal scorer in Chris Kreider, and Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin being over 80 points, they should be able to pounce on most anyone.
The Penguins strength is their ability to simply control a game. Sidney Crosby is a master at his craft, and can really guide his players through this tough matchup. Even at 34, the captain tied Jake Guentzel for team lead in points at 84. Along with their control of the game, the Penguins take minimal penalties, meaning the Rangers above average PP% is taken off the table.
Through their season series this year, Rangers took 3 of the 4, with a goal difference of 11 to 4. Most stats can be thrown out the window when it comes to playoff hockey, but games have been in favor of the Rangers thus far. Look to see who steps up big in these games, with the series starting in New York they do carry a slight edge, but Crosby and the Penguins won’t simply roll over.
My pick, Rangers in 6
Eastern conference playoff hockey is a sight to behold. Enjoy these series along with the rest of the playoff hockey this spring. Stick to Fantom Sports for all your sports reading!
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