Bruins Game 28 Preview: Carolina Hurricanes

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Getty Images)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

Seven-consecutive wins and an undefeated (regulation) home record is the story of the Boston Bruins right now and it is showing on the standings. As of December 3rd, the Bruins are first in the overall league standings with a record of 15-3-5, tied with the Washington Capitals in points, but have an edge in ROW (regulation plus overtime wins). Boston won their last game 3-1 over the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday after trailing the game 1-0 for nearly the entire first two periods.

After surprising the league by making it to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, the Carolina Hurricanes are aiming to prove that it was not a coincidence, but that they deserved to be there. Carolina is in the top-ten in the league with a record of 16-10-1, including a 7-3-0 stretch in their last ten games. The Canes last defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning by a final score of 3-2 on November 30th.

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Jaroslav Halak 6-1-3 2.35 GAA .930 SV% Last Game: 26 Saves in 3-2 OT win vs NYR

CAR: Petr Mrazek (Not Confirmed) 11-6-1 2.68 GAA .901 SV% Last Game: 25 Saves in 3-0 loss vs NSH

Who’s Hot:

On Sunday against Montreal, David Pastrnak unleashed a rocket of a slapshot as he entered the zone that not only beat Carey Price, but started the three-goal onslaught that would later secure a Bruins victory. Pastrnak’s goal was his 25th of the 2019-20 season, reaching the halfway point to 50 goals and it is only December 3rd. Pastrnak has a five-goal lead on Capitals’ forward Alex Ovechkin for the most goals in the league while playing in one less game than the scoring legend.

Former Boston Bruins defenceman Dougie Hamilton has seemingly finally found success with a team over in Carolina. The 26-year-old leads all defensemen in the NHL with ten goals in his 27 games played this season while adding 18 assists for 28 points. Hamilton is on pace to crush his season totals for 2018-19 where he scored 18-21-39 numbers in a full 82-game season. The 9th-overall pick by Boston in the 2011 Entry Draft has 1-4-5 totals in his last five games including a two-assist night against Tampa Bay.

With Patrice Bergeron dealing with a nagging injury lately, the Bruins have had to fall back on David Krejci to man the first-line center as well as the first power-play unit and he has done great. The 33-year-old Krejci has 5-15-20 numbers in 21 games this year and has seven points in his last five. Krejci has been seeing around eighteen minutes of ice-time per game for the last three games and has not failed to come up big. Krejci will look to continue that success tonight against the Hurricanes.

Who’s Not:

Nino Niederreiter was acquired by Carolina in January of last season and went on to dominate, scoring 14-16-30 numbers in 36 games played, adding another four points in fifteen playoff games. However, this season, the 5th-overall selection in the 2010 NHL Draft only has 3-7-10 numbers in 27 games and is pointless in each of his last six contests and has seen decreases in his playing time during this bad stretch.

There has not been a whole lot of negative pieces to the Boston Bruins puzzle on this seven-game winning streak. The team has done a great job staying in games and playing to their style, performing numerous comeback wins against the Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, and Montreal Canadiens. When a player does make an error, such as Heinen against the Rangers or Chara against the Canadiens, the rest of the team comes around them and it doesn’t happen again.

Milestone Watch:

Boston Bruins:

  • G Jaroslav Halak will play in his 500th career NHL game
  • F David Krejci is one goal away (199) from 200 career NHL goals
  • F Charlie Coyle is two goals away (98) from 100 career NHL goals
  • F Jake DeBrusk is three points away (97) from 100 career NHL points

Carolina Hurricanes:

  • F Jordan Staal is three assists away (297) from 300 career NHL assists
  • D Dougie Hamilton is five assists away (195) from 200 career NHL assists

Bruins vs Hurricanes Outlook:

For the first time since their Eastern Conference Finals series, the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes will play one another. Last year, the Bruins won the season series over the Canes, winning two out of the three games they played. In the playoffs, the two met in the Conference Finals, where the Bruins swept the Hurricanes in four-straight games to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Tonight’s game will not only be the first time that these two teams meet again, but it will also be a big test as both squads are within the top-ten teams in the NHL – with Boston taking the number one position right now. Boston is coming into the game as the best team defensively, averaging the lowest goals-against-per-game on average, allowing 2.26 goals against. The B’s are also second in the NHL for goals-for, scoring at a rate of 3.67 goals-for-per-game. Boston also has the best goal-differential in the league at +34.

Carolina has also been putting up goals, averaging 3.22 goals-for-per-game – 11th best in the National Hockey League. On the defence side of things, the Canes are no slouches either. They have the 8th-best goals-against-per-game at an average of 2.81 and they have a goal-differential of +12, fifth in the Eastern Conference and seventh in the league.

Speciality teams is still a hot topic for the Bruins, as they continue to score on the man-advantage with a 31.6% success rate (2nd in NHL). In Sunday’s win over Montreal, David Backes scored the eventual game-winning tally on the power-play in the third-period. Boston also has the seventh-best penalty-kill in the game – thriving at a 84.5% kill rate. Carolina has the ninth-best power-play (21.2%) and the eighth-best penalty-kill (84.4%).

Bruins Projected Lineup:

According to Head Coach Bruce Cassidy, forward Patrice Bergeron will not play tonight but he said that he can see him playing on the upcoming trip if there are no setbacks. Defenceman John Moore remains out of the lineup, but could return on Thursday and forward Brett Ritchie will be a scratch. Halak gets the start in goal.

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Boston Bruins vs Carolina Hurricanes: In-Depth Series Preview

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

Following Monday’s Game Six shutout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Boston Bruins officially move on to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since their Stanley Cup Finals run in the 2012-13 season. Boston now has a combined 8-6 record in the 2019 postseason and they prepare for a third-round match-up with the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes entered the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the second wild-card team, but courtesy of a Brock McGinn overtime winner in Game Seven, the Canes eliminated the Washington Captials who were the defending Stanley Cup Champions. Carolina then faced the New York Islanders in the second round, a team who had swept the experienced Pittsburgh Penguins in their first round match-up. The ‘Bunch of Jerks’ dominated the Islanders, winning four straight – sweeping New York to meet at that time, either the Bruins or Blue Jackets.

For the second consecutive series, the Bruins will have to face a team who has had plenty of time to rest after their previous round ended while they have to deal with minimal rest in comparison to Carolina. However, the Bruins do have a few more days than they had between the Toronto and Columbus series which should be a great break for the team to regroup with only two rounds left to go.

Skaters To Look Out For

Boston Bruins:

  • F Brad Marchand: 13GP – 5G – 8A – 13P
  • F David Pastrnak: 13GP – 6G – 5A – 11P
  • F David Krejci: 13GP – 4G – 6A – 10P
  • F Charlie Coyle: 13GP – 5G – 3A – 8P
  • F Patrice Bergeron: 13GP – 5G – 3A – 8P
  • D Torey Krug: 13GP – 1G – 7A – 8P – 21:25 TOI
  • D Charlie McAvoy: 13GP – 1G – 5A – 6P – 24:46 TOI

The first-line trio of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron had some early struggles in the 2019 postseason, but near the end of the best-of-seven series against the Blue Jackets, the top line started to heat up. In the crazy Game Five, Pastrnak tallied a pair of goals and his linemates of Bergeron and Marchand have been on the scoresheet numerous times as well.

David Krejci and Charlie Coyle have been the two best point-producing forwards aside from that line and Coyle himself has had some big goals including the game-winner in Game One’s first overtime session. Marcus Johansson and Sean Kuraly (not listed above) are also having themselves a big postseason. Both of them scored the insurance goal in each of the first series (Kuraly vs TOR in Game 7, Johansson vs CBJ in Game 6) and have been finding their game all over the ice.

On defense, Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy have arguably been the names seen the most, with them both having large time-on-ice numbers throughout the 13 games thus far, but players such as Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk have also been huge for Boston on the back-end. Going back to Game Five against Columbus, Carlo shut down Artemi Panarin in the defensive zone before passing it up to Marchand and then to Pastrnak for the game-winning goal in the dying minutes of the third period.

The experience of the Bruins roster is something to watch out for as they have been able to battle through a lot of adversity throughout their years together as a core group, especially in 2018-19.

Carolina Hurricanes:

  • D Jaccob Slavin: 11GP – 0G – 11A – 11P – +8 Rating – 26:36 TOI
  • F Teuvo Teravainen: 11GP – 6G – 3A – 9P – +8 Rating – 20:20 TOI
  • F Warren Foegele: 11GP – 5G – 4A – 9P
  • F Jordan Staal: 11GP – 4G – 5A – 9P
  • F Sebastian Aho: 11GP – 4G – 5A – 9P 21:25 TOI
  • D Dougie Hamilton: 11GP – 3G – 4A – 7P 20:11 TOI
  • F Justin Williams: 11GP – 3G – 3A – 6P

Surprisingly, Jaccob Slavin leads the Hurricanes in points during the post-season with 11 assists in the same number of games. Three of those assists came in the Game Seven win over the Capitals. The 25-year-old defenceman averages the most minutes-per-game on the entire Hurricanes roster, with D Justin Faulk behind him, averaging 25:54 on the ice per game.

Behind Slavin, four Carolina forwards have nine points, putting their display of depth scoring on the max setting. Teuvo Teravainen led the team with 3-2-5 numbers in the four-game sweep of the Islanders. Seven players had three or more points in that same time span,

If the series goes to the do-or-die seventh game, then the Hurricanes will have a strong asset in captain Justin Williams. Williams holds the NHL record for most points in Game 7 with 15 throughout his career and boasts an 8-1 record in those crucial games. Williams was named the captain of Carolina in September 2018 and he has been the embodiment of leadership for the young locker room, having won the Stanley Cup on three occasions (’06 with CAR, ’12 & ’14 with LAK).

Goaltenders in the Between the Posts

BOS: Tuukka Rask – 8-5 .938 SV% – 2.02 GAA

Before the second-round battle with the Columbus Blue Jackets even started, one of the biggest concerns was how good Sergei Bobrovsky is and was most likely going to be for the duration of the series. Bobrovsky was good, but Tuukka Rask was outstanding for the Bruins for all six games, especially in the final three wins for the B’s.

In Game 4, Rask made 39 saves on 40 shots with the only goal going in creating controversy after the puck clearly hit the netting above the end boards. In Game Five, Rask was solid for the majority of the game, before allowing three third period goals in what was an insane final frame. Blue Jackets Head Coach John Tortorella claimed Rask was “dented” after Game Five, but Tuukka came back even stronger with a 39-save shutout to eliminate Columbus.

One could very well argue that the reason that the Boston Bruins are prepping for Conference Finals, is Tuukka Rask’s elite play in net.

CAR: Curtis McElhinney – 3-0 .947 SV% 1.56 GAA OR

Petr Mrazek – 5-3 .913 SV% 2.22 GAA

Petr Mrazek was the starting goaltender throughout the regular season and was to begin the playoffs as well, eliminating the Washington Capitals and taking Game One against the Islanders. However, in Game Two, Mrazek suffered a lower-body injury that is being listed as a groin injury and did not play for the remainder of the series. Former Maple Leafs goalie, Curtis McElhinney, stepped in and won three straight to complete the sweep.

The eight-day break for Carolina allowed Mrazek to improve with his injury and it seems like he will be the goaltender that starts in Game One, but as of 1:00pm EST, Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour would not directly release who that starting goaltender is. If it is McElhinney, the Bruins can expect Mrazek to be back in the lineup maybe as soon as Game Two on Sunday.

Either way, both netminders in the red and black sweaters for the Canes will be at the top of their game as they have shown throughout the postseason so far. Boston is used to playing against a hot goaltender, dealing with both Frederik Andersen and Sergei Bobrovsky in the opening two rounds.

Season Series

The Bruins and Hurricanes played in three games during the 2018-19 campaign, with Boston finishing the season series with a 2-1-0 record.

  • October 30th/18: Bruins 3 – Hurricanes 2
  • December 23rd/18: Hurricanes 5 – Bruins 3
  • March 5th/19: Bruins 4 – Hurricanes 3 OT

Both of Boston’s wins over Carolina this season were only by a lone goal when the final buzzer sounded, including an overtime win to close out the season series on March 5th. Carolina won their only game of the series by a final score of 5-3. Tuukka Rask allowed five goals on 37 shots against while Petr Mrazek stopped 27 of 30 shots that faced him.

Throughout the NHL history, both franchises have had some legendary playoff moments as well. That dates back to the days of the Hartford Whalers before the relocation to Raleigh, North Carolina for the 1997-1998 season. For more on that history, check out fellow BNG’s teammate Evan Michael’s article regarding the Bruins/Hurricanes before their 2019 clash.

Projected Lines for Game One

Boston Bruins:

Forwards:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Backes

Johansson-Coyle-Heinen

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

Defence:

Chara-Clifton

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Kampfer

Goaltender:

Rask

Scratched: Noel Acciari (upper-body), Karson Kuhlman (healthy), Charlie McAvoy (suspended for an illegal hit to the head), Zane McIntyre (healthy), John Moore (healthy).

Carolina Hurricanes (per @NHLCanes on Twitter):

Forwards

Svechnikov-Aho-Teravainen

Niederreiter-Staal-Williams

Foegele-Wallmark-McGinn

Ferland-McKegg-Martinook

Defence

Slavin-Hamilton

Pesce-Faulk

Fleury-de Haan

Goalies

A starting goaltender has not been announced.

Scratched: Bean (healthy), Brown (healthy), Maenalenen (upper body), van Riemsdyk (upper body).

Puck drop for Game One is scheduled for tonight, May 9th at 8:00pm EST in Boston, followed by the remaining possible six games:

*if required

Game Two: Sunday, May 12th – 3pm EST in Boston

Game Three: Tuesday, May 14th – 8pm EST in Carolina

Game Four: Thursday, May 16th – 8pm EST in Carolina

Game Five*: Saturday, May 18th – 7:15pm EST in Boston

Game Six*: Monday, May 20th – 8pm EST in Carolina

Game Seven*: Wednesday, May 22nd – 8pm EST in Boston

With that, let the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals begin!