NHL EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS PREVIEW

2023-05-18 · 3 min read · NHL/Hockey
Roope Hintz and Jack Eichel for West and Sergei Bobrovsky and Sebastian Aho for East

USA Today Sports | ESPN | AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Carolina Hurricanes vs. Florida Panthers
Round 2 of this year's playoffs was not very good to me (1-3 after a 6-2 first round), here's hoping for a return to form in round 3.
  • The East final two teams have plenty of good storylines to watch. There is the Family battle as three Staal brothers are in this series, with eldest Eric and middle Marc in Florida and younger Jordan captains the Canes (Eric’s former team). There is the coaching angle as Panthers bench boss Paul Maurice was the Hurricanes' coach for two separate stints. He totalled a 323-319-80 record behind their bench, and he has a significant place in Canes history. Current Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour, another Hurricanes legend, played for Maurice during each of his stints with Carolina; after retiring he got his start in coaching as one of his assistants.
As is often the case in the playoffs, goaltending is likely to play a huge role in this series, just look at what happened to Edmonton in round two. Since taking over the crease late in the first round Frederik Anderson has been spectacular, starting the past six games; going 5-0 with a 1.80 goals-against average and .931 save percentage. After an up-and-down year at best Sergei Bobrovsky has reclaimed the No. 1 job, starting the past nine games. Bobrovsky is 7-2 with a 2.82 GAA and .918 save percentage in 10 games. Bob seemed to be getting stronger though as he sported a 4-1 record with a 1.89 GAA and .943 save percentage in the second round.
Florida has been strong with the man advantage so far these playoffs, going 8-29 (27.6%) including 3-9 in the second round (33.3%). Despite this, they have struggled with the reverse with a 25-38 (65.8%) penalty kill. Florida has struggled to contain other teams' offences so far as they are allowing 35.3 shots against per game these playoffs. The Hurricanes are interestingly about the opposite, sporting a very impressive penalty kill. They are an NHL-best 27-for-30 (90%) with four shorthanded goals in the playoffs. Yet they are a measly 7-for-37 (18.9 percent) on the power play. The Hurricanes lead the NHL with a plus-82 differential in 5-on-5 shot attempts, despite averaging a League-low 27.8 shots against per game
Overall, I think this is going to be a tough physical series and the Panthers are a scrappy, surprisingly talented squad with no quit in them. The Hurricanes, however, seem poised to end the Panthers' impressive run, as they are an incredibly deep team with a calm, collected style of play that has been perfect for the playoffs; playing responsibly, an aggressive forecheck and a knack for converting turnovers.
Fun fact
The Panthers are 6-1 on the road in the playoffs, and the Panthers are 4-0 in playoff overtime and have won seven straight OT games since 2021. Meanwhile, Carolina is 5-1 at home in the playoffs. The Hurricanes are 3-0 in playoff overtime and have won seven straight OT games since 2021.
My Pick - Hurricanes 7
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By: Chase Howard

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