PREVIEW: Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Rangers
Dylan Callaghan-Croley (@DylanCCSports)
July 29, 2020
What They Did In the Regular Season:
Carolina Hurricanes: In the regular season, Carolina put together a record 38-25-5 which was good for 81-points and fifth in the Eastern Conference. They were fighting for the eighth seed at the time of the stoppage.
New York Rangers: The Rangers are one of the teams that were benefited the most from the playoffs this year as they went 37-28-5 for 79-points. At the time of the COVID stoppage, they were just two points out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
Offensive Analysis: EDGE - NEW YORK RANGERS
Carolina Hurricanes: 3.20 GF/GP, 22.3% PP
New York Rangers: 3.33 GF/GP, 22.9% PP
It’s worth noting that neither the Hurricanes or the Rangers are a phenomenal team when it comes to goal scoring depth. Both are very top heavy in their scoring which could make this series interesting if the top lines don’t produce at the clip they are expected to.
Between the two teams, Carolina has a much more balanced and deeper offense, mostly led by their first line of Andrei Svechnikov, Sebastian Aho, and Tuevo Teravainen. Combined they produced 190 points this season, consisting of 77 goals and 113 assist, all three forwards finished with 60+ points this season.
Beyond the first line, the Hurricanes have received scoring depth from the blue line with defenseman Dougie Hamilton and Jaccob Slavin contributing 40 and 36 points respectively. Center Martin Necras and left winger Warren Foegele both also contributed 30+ point seasons.
For the Rangers, star forward Artemi Panarin is the leading man as he finished the shortened regular season with 95 points (32 G, 63 A) in 69 games. Had it not been for the COVID stoppage, Pnarain would have certainly recorded his first career 100+ point season and most likely would’ve received Hart Trophy consideration.
After Panarin, the Rangers do have forward Mika Zibanejad who enjoyed a career season with 75 points in 57 games, he recorded a team-high 41 goals in the process. Ryan Strome and Anthony DeAngelo both recorded 50+ point seasons, while Pavel Buchnecvich, Chris Kreider, and Adam Fox all recorded 40+ point seasons.
Defensive Analysis: EDGE - CAROLINA HURRICANES
Carolina Hurricanes: 2.84 GA/GP, 84.0% PK
New York Rangers: 3.14 GA/GP, 77.4% PK
The goalie situation for both teams entering the playoffs is a major question. The Hurricanes will have to choose between Petr Mrazek (21-16-2, .905, 2.69) or James Reimer (14-6-2, 9.14, 2.66) while the Rangers will have a trio of goalies to choose from in franchise legend Hendrik Lundqvist (10-12-3, .905, 3.16), or impressive youngsters Alexander Georgiev (17-14-2, 9.10, 3.04) and Igor Shesterkin (10-2-0, .932, 2.52).
The Hurricanes for the most part in 2020 were a quality team defensively, allowing 2.84 goals per game and kept opposing player power plays to a success rate of 16%. Both Mrazek and Remier have respectable GAA so the Hurricanes should feel comfortable whichever goalie they choose to put between the pipes. The Hurricanes also have one of the league’s best blue lines led by Dougie Hamilton who was one of the game’s top defenseman during the regular season.
For the Rangers, the defense will be a much more important decision. The Ranger struggled mightily defensively in 2020, allowing 3.14 goals per game and allowing opposing power plays to convert at a 22.6% clip. As of right now, it appears that Igor Shesterkin will be the goalie who gets the nod to start the series, it will be a tall task for the rookie though he was extremely impressive in his time on the ice in the regular season.
Special Teams: EDGE - CAROLINA HURRICANES
We’ve mentioned the special teams above and it’s easy to see the Hurricanes have the advantage here. While the two teams have similar power plays that are only separated by 0.6 points in favor of the Rangers, the Hurricanes have the much better penalty kill. The Hurricanes fourth ranked penalty kill can shut down the best power plays in the league. The Rangers penalty kill, on the other hand, was in the bottom third of the league, coming in at No. 23. If this series turns into a special teams battle, the advantage surely goes to the Hurricanes on paper.
Overall: EDGE - CAROLINA HURRICANES
Overall, we give the edge in this series to the Hurricanes. While the Rangers offense is a bit more dynamic and has the ability to go off at any moment, the Hurricanes defense led by one of the league’s best blue lines and a solid goalie tandem will make them a tough team to beat. The Rangers can surely win this series but they’ll need to tighten up their defensive tactics to make it easier on their goalies.