2024-05-05 · 2 min read · NHL/Hockey
Jake Guentzel, Artemi Panarin, and Aleksander Barkov

Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images | Cody Glenn-USA TODAY Sports | NHLI via Getty Images

Both these teams are great and I expect the winner of this matchup to reach the Stanley Cup. The Rangers won two of their three matchups this season and are the presidents’ trophy team but despite their undeniable talent I'm not sure they have the advantage here.
When it comes to advanced metrics Carolina has a clear offensive advantage. The Hurricanes generate a ton of shots, generating quality chances on their opponents and are one of the best fore-checking teams in the league. The Rangers, who rely more on the rush, are a lot more middle-of-the-road in what they create. The difference is that New York makes the most of those opportunities while the Canes struggle to do the same. Those themes carried into the playoffs. In the first round the Hurricanes generated 2.83 expected goals per 60 against the Islanders but only scored 1.96. The Rangers didn’t produce as many quality chances, with about two per 60, but outscored expectations.
Carolina’s advantage on defence feels even more significant. The Hurricanes are among the best shot and scoring chance suppressors in the league. What helps limit the danger of the shots they allow back is that the Canes excel at breaking up their opponents’ passes, and that’s a key part of the Rangers attack. However the Rangers have one of the leagues best in Igor Shesterkin between the pipes and we have seen him be dominant in the playoff game…or series before.
Overall, I can't help but think Carolina’s well-balanced, well-coached group has the speed and depth to keep pace with the Rangers. In a six-or-seven-game series like the one this matchup promises to be, a fortunate bounce here or there can be the difference between an Eastern Conference final appearance and a second-round exit. Rod Brind’Amour is going to have his Canes motivated and prepared to battle the Rangers. While I think this series could come down to a few bounces I expect Carolina to squeak by New York in a long and difficult series.
Pick - Hurricanes in 7
Florida Panthers Vs. Boston Bruins
The Panthers made short work of their intra-state rivals in Tampa Bay, sending the Lightning packing in five games in Round 1. Florida felt in control of the series the whole time, limiting the Bolts to just eight goals in the Panthers’ four wins in the first-round series. The Bruins meanwhile needed seven games to narrowly beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in a battle of a first round matchup. Florida has the energy and depth to outlast Boston, and the Panthers also have good enough goaltending to match Bruins star netminder Jeremy Swayman
The only way I see Boston winning this series is if Swayman stands on his head and steals at least a couple games from the Panthers. The Bruins’ offence has been wobbly at best, but Boston beat the Leafs because their defence limited Toronto to very few second and third chances in high-danger spots around the net; a tough task against the Panthers, a very aggressive, physical fore-check and rebound team.
I expect the Panthers to handle the Bruins with relative ease, as Florida won't be easily dissuaded from imposing its will against Boston, with its physical hounding style of play. The Panthers are at least as much of a well-coached group as the Bruins are, but Florida’s defence corps is better than Boston’s, and the Panthers’ go-to skaters are better than the Bruins. The rest the Panthers built up by beating Tampa in five games should be a big help to them in this series, and I won't be surprised if this series will be just as short as Florida’s first-round series was; but due to Swayman I'll give em one more.
Pick - Panthers in 6
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By: Chase Howard


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