By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — After the Bruins dispatched the Columbus Blue Jackets in six games, some hockey observers in the greater Boston area might have gotten their hopes up for a nice break of four or five days before the Eastern Conference finals would begin. Those hopes were dashed on Tuesday, when the NHL announced mid-afternoon that the puck would drop on Game 1 on Thursday night in Boston.READ MORE: Boston Celebrates Life And Legacy Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
That’s not a whole lot of time to prepare.
Of course, the Bruins and the Hurricanes are the ones who will need to prepare the most, as their seasons will be on the line over the next two weeks. When it comes to who will win, well, we can’t predict that. But we can catalog what’s happened thus far this postseason to try to paint a clear picture of what to expect.
Boston: 48-24-9, 107 points
Carolina: 46-29-7, 99 points
Head-To-Head Record In 2018-19 Season
Postseason, Overtime Record
Postseason, Goals Scored Per Game
Postseason, Goals Allowed Per Game
Postseason, Power Play Percentage
Boston: 28.6% (No. 1)
Carolina: 10.5% (No. 14)
Postseason, Penalty Kill Percentage
Boston: 83.8% (No. 6)
Carolina: 75% (No. 13)
Postseason, Home Record
Postseason, Road Record
Clearly, despite the difference in the Eastern Conference standings, these two teams match up pretty evenly. The disparity that jumps out the most is the Bruins’ power play and the Hurricanes’ penalty kill. That looks like it could be a critical area for the Hurricanes as they prepare for this series — and the Blue Jackets should have provided enough film on how to really disrupt that potent power play. Boston converted on just 15.8 percent of its PP chances in the second round, after scoring on an absurd 43.8 percent of power-play chances against the Maple Leafs.
Carolina, though, despite its sweep of the Islanders, had the worst PK of the second round, with only a 75 percent kill rate.
The Bruins surrendered far too many shorthanded scoring chances vs. Columbus. This round, if they can execute sharply on the power play, it could be the deciding factor in the series.READ MORE: Arizona Mother Worried Son's Surgery In Boston Will Be Rescheduled Again Due To COVID
1. Jaccob Slavin: 0 goals, 11 assists, 11 points
T-2. Teuvo Teravainen: 6 goals, 3 assists, 9 points
T-2. Warren Foegele: 5 goals, 4 assists, 9 points
T-2. Sebatian Aho: 4 goals, 5 assists, 9 points
T-2. Jordan Staal: 4 goals, 5 assists, 9 points
6. Dougie Hamilton: 3 goals, 4 assists, 7 points
T-7. Justin Williams: 3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points
T-7. Brock McGinn: 2 goals, 4 assists, 6 points
T-7. Justin Faulk: 1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points
T-7. Brett Pesce: 0 goals, 6 assists, 6 points
1. Brad Marchand: 5 goals, 8 assists, 13 points
2. David Pastrnak: 6 goals, 5 assists, 11 points
3. David Krejci: 4 goals, 6 assists, 10 points
T-4. Patrice Bergeron: 5 goals, 3 assists, 8 points
T-4. Charlie Coyle: 5 goals, 3 assists, 8 points
T-4. Torey Krug: 1 goal, 7 assists, 8 points
7. Charlie McAvoy: 1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points
T-8. Jake DeBrusk: 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points
T-8. Marcus Johansson: 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points
T-8. Matt Grzelcyk: 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points
T-8. Danton Heinen: 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points
The Bruins would certainly win the national name recognition competition here, as the likes of Warren Foegele aren’t exactly household names just yet. But surely, that won’t matter, and the Hurricanes are likely thriving off any such dismissals that might be made regarding their place in this series.
As for who is running hot, Teravainen had six points (4-2-6) in the four-game sweep over the Islanders, while Sebastian Aho potted three goals himself while also tallying a pair of assists. Slavin, who ranks second in the entire NHL playoff field with 11 assists, recorded five of those assists in the second round.
For Boston, David Pastrnak’s gotten more attention for his struggles than “being hot,” but the bottom line says he had four goals and an assist in the second round. A balanced Boston attack involved 10 players registering at least three points in that series win.
.938 save percentage, 2.02 GAA
.913 save percentage, 2.22 GAA
.947 save percentage, 1.56 GAA
It’s not totally unprecedented but is nevertheless rare for a starting goaltender to go down due to injury in the middle of the postseason, only for a team’s goaltending situation to actually improve. That has been the case with the Hurricanes, who lost Mrazek in Game 2 against the Islanders. McElhinney, a 35-year-old with over 200 games of NHL experience, has been lights-out ever since.
Still, the Canes hope to go back to Mrazek for Game 1. In 10 career playoff games, Mrazek sports a 1.88 GAA and a .931 save percentage.
For the Bruins, Rask has been the MVP. Can he maintain that level for another series? If he can, the Hurricanes won’t stand a chance. If they can actually “dent” him — even slightly — then things will get interesting.
TIME ON ICE
1. Charlie McAvoy, 24:46
2. Brandon Carlo, 22:47
3. Zdeno Chara, 22:37
4. Torey Krug, 21:25
5. Brad Marchand, 21:07
1. Jaccob Slavin, 26:36
2. Justin Faulk, 25:54
3. Brett Pesce, 23:14
4. Sebastian Aho, 21:25
5. Teuvo Teravainen, 20:20
The McAvoy suspension for Game 1 is going to hurt Boston significantly, as he’s far and away the Bruins’ leader in ice time. The Bruins will likely ask Zdeno Chara to turn back the clock (only by a few months) to avoid a potential disaster in Game 1.
The Hurricanes ride that top trio of D-men significantly, with Dougie Hamilton (20:11) and Calvin de Haan (17:40) the busiest D-men after that.
1. Patrice Bergeron, 61.2%
2. Sean Kuraly, 53.3%
3. David Krejci, 52.9%
4. Noel Acciari, 52%
5. Charlie Coyle, 46.6%
1. Jordan Staal, 53.5%
2. Greg McKegg, 52.6%
3. Lucas Wallmark, 51.5%
4. Sebastian Aho, 46.2%
5. Justin Williams, 38.9%
OK, fine. Busted! This was just a ploy to get Bergeron’s absurd 61.2% success rate on faceoffs published somewhere.MORE NEWS: How Long Should You Wait To Be Boosted After Getting COVID? Dr. Mallika Marshall Answers Your COVID Questions