The Carolina Hurricanes could be the most complete and structured team in the NHL playoffs. The Boston Bruins have been the fourth-best team point percentage-wise in the league since January 1st. However, the Canes owned the Bruins in three games this season and outscored Boston 16-1. In Boston, two of those games were 7-1 and 6-0 Carolina victories. So, you would think this series will be won by Carolina on the ice. Well, here are five reasons why the Bruins will pull the upset.
The Bruins begin this series with two viable options at goaltender. Linus Ullmark will take Game 1 in Carolina. The former Buffalo Sabre has been terrific the last couple of months. Jeremy Swayman is currently the backup but can step in if Ullmark falters. The Hurricanes will be missing their netminder Frederik Andersen at the start of the series. Andersen won 35 games and had a goals-against-average of 2.17 in the regular. In his absence, Antii Raanta should get the start. Raanta was 15-5-4 during the season and just came back from a lower-body injury. Slight edge to the Bruins.
The Bruins have a high-powered second line with Erik Haula centering Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak. This grouping could be a huge reason the Bruins advance to the second round. Pastrnak has 40 goals, and Hall had his seventh 20-plus goal season. Haula has the most points on the team since the trade deadline. The Hurricanes rely on their top line, with Sebastian Aho leading the way (81 points). Vincent Trocheck centers a second line that will have to match the output of Boston’s second unit.
The Lindholm Effect
Hampus Lindholm was not with the Bruins for the three matchups between the two clubs this season. The former Anaheim Duck provides stability with defensive pair Charlie McAvoy and can play heavy minutes for Bruce Cassidy’s club. Lindholm should be able to help neutralize the Aho line and give the Bruins an advantage in five-on-five play.
Recent Playoff History
Boston has been able to handle Carolina in the postseason, and this series may be the same result. The Bruins have eliminated the Hurricanes in 2019 and 2020 while winning eight out of nine playoff games over Carolina. Even though the Hurricanes swept the Bruins handily in three games this season, Boston is healthy now, and their defensive structure has become one of the best in the league.
The Frederic-Coyle-Smith Line
When Trent Frederic was added to the third line, his game reached another level, and the Bruins developed a decided advantage over the opposition. Coyle’s puck possession, Smith’s shot, and Frederic’s edgy play have become a great combination. This line can maintain offensive zone time and create some havoc against the Hurricanes’ third defensive pairing.
Prediction: Bruins in six. The lopsided regular-season results between these two teams create precedence, but this is a different Bruins team now. Boston had the fourth-highest point percentage in the NHL after January 1st and is poised to pull the upset and end Carolina’s season for the third time in four years.