In a rematch of last year’s conference final, the Boston Bruins will do battle with the Carolina Hurricanes.
This all happened because the Bruins went through the round robin without a win and the Hurricanes took down the New York Rangers in a Qualifying Round sweep. The Rangers went on to a consolation prize by winning the Draft Lottery.
Boston took the series last year in a sweep, so the Hurricanes will be looking for a measure of revenge.
They’ve got the defence to do it. Carolina boasts one of the deepest D-units in the NHL, even if they will have to skate without Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce. The Hurricanes allowed just 193 goals against in the regular season, good for ninth overall. Against the Rangers, they allowed just four goals in three games.
But naturally, the Bruins are the defensive powerhouse – at least as far as the regular season goes. Boston allowed just 167 goals against in the regular season, first overall in the category, and their penalty kill was third (Carolina’s was fourth).
The Bruins have struggled since entering the bubble. They got just one point out of the David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand combination and their goaltending left a lot to be desired.
Now, you could make a troubling story out of Boston’s lack of intensity during the round robin and that would be understandable. But there are other variables.
For one, the Bruins did without Pastrnak for all but one day of training camp thanks to mandatory quarantine. And goalie Tuukka Rask was out to start the round.
Those could be excuses or those could be reasons, but it’s not the safest bet to suggest Boston’s round robin play is a sign of things to come. It’s likely the contrary, with the Bruins refreshed and ready to pound Carolina once more into a fine paste.
When Boston is on, Boston is on. Carolina will have to prepare for one of the most lethal offences in the NHL, including the second-best power play.
The good news, if you’re a Hurricanes fan, is that offence isn’t an issue for the “visitors” either. Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov have been ripping it up, combining to find the scoreboard in every game against the Rangers. Throw Teuvo Teravainen in the mix and you’re looking at one of the most underrated top lines in hockey.
The Bruins will have their work cut out for them, but that’s when they’re at their best. It should make for a terrific series, with two active, physical hockey teams ready to do battle in Toronto.