The NHL is set up with another solid day of action to kick off the week. Four games will be up on the board throughout Monday. One of these games will be between the Boston Bruins and the Carolina Hurricanes. These two teams have met up in three exciting games so far and I expect that to keep true. The puck will drop for this game at around 8:00 PM Eastern time.
The Bruins finished out the regular season with a record of 44-14-12, which had them in first place of the Eastern Conference. Boston lost all three of their round robin games, which dropped them to fourth place in the East. The Bruins have a solid 2-1 lead in this series over the Hurricanes, but will still need to win two more to knock them off.
Carolina earned a record of 38-25-5 throughout the regular season this season. The Hurricanes were in sixth place of the Eastern Conference, which had them meet up with the New York Rangers in the Qualifying round. Carolina swept them in three games, moving them into this matchup. The Hurricanes will now look to tie up the series with a huge win in Game 4.
These two teams had three close games leading up this matchup, which should lead to another solid one. The Bruins broke the series tie in the last matchup, but are now without their starting goaltender. The Hurricanes had a lot of good chances in Game 3 and will look to bounce back in this one as they try and tie the series up.
The only game of the season series was hosted by Boston on December 3. Charlie Coyle and David Krejci scored the lone goals in the third period to help give the Bruins the win. James Reimer turned away 32 of 34 shots, but it was not enough. Jaroslav Halak stopped all 24 shots he faced as the Bruins were able to win 2-0.
Game 1 of this series was back on August 12. Hadyn Fleury scored a huge goal for the Hurricanes to send it to overtime. Brad Marchand had two assists, while Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak both scored a goal and an assist. Bergeron scored the game winner in double overtime to take the first game of the series for the Bruins.
The second game of this series was on August 13. Brad Marchand had another two point night, scoring a goal and adding an assist for Boston. Andrei Svechnikov scored a goal and an assist as the game was tied at 2-2 after two periods. Dougie Hamilton scored in the third period to give Carolina the win. James Reimer stopped 33 of the 35 shots he faced in the win.
Game 3 of this series was on August 15. Charlie Coyle opened up the scoring and added an assist later in the matchup. Brad Marchand also had a goal and an assist for the Bruins. Nino Niederreiter scored the only goal for Carolina, which was not enough. Jaroslav Halak stopped 29 of the 30 shots he faced to help give Boston a 3-1 win to take back the series lead.
The Bruins had a great regular season on special teams. Boston capitalized on 25.2 percent of their power play chances, while killing off 84.2 percent of the penalties against them. The Bruins have not done quite as well in the playoffs. Boston has put up a power play percentage of 14.3 percent, while earning an 82.4 percent kill rate.
Carolina also had a strong season on special teams this season. The Hurricanes earned a power play success rate of 22.3 percent and an 84 percent penalty kill percentage on the season. Carolina’s power play has also struggled a bit in the playoffs, capitalizing on 16 percent of power play opportunities. The Hurricanes have earned a penalty kill percentage of 84.6 percent in the postseason.
These two teams had strong power plays throughout the regular season, but have not quite found that magic in the playoffs. Both teams have also found ways to dominate on the penalty kill. The Hurricanes allowed a shorthanded goal in the last matchup and will look to get their power play moving at a much better rate in this one. If Carolina can capitalize on the power play chances Boston gives to them, it could help them tie up this series.
Jaroslav Halak will get the start in the crease for the Bruins in this matchup. Halak earned a record of 18-6-6 throughout the regular season. He put up a save percentage of .919 and a 2.39 GAA through those starts. Halak posted a .915 save percentage and a GAA of 2.59 throughout his first two starts in the bubble. Boston will rely on Halak to step up with Tuukka Rask opting out of the playoffs.
I expect Petr Mrazek to get the nod in net for Carolina in Game 4. Mrazek finished out the regular season with a record of 21-16-2. He earned a save percentage of .905 and a GAA of 2.69. Mrazek has started four games in the playoffs, putting up a .930 save percentage and a 2.09 GAA. The Hurricanes could also go with James Reimer, who has posted a .959 save percentage throughout his playoff starts.
With Rask out for the playoffs, that puts a lot of pressure on Jaroslav Halak, who has been in a backup role for a while. I believe that the Hurricanes will find a way to break through on him in this matchup, which will cause some issues. Both of Carolina’s goalies have done well in the playoffs and they will need another strong start on Monday night.
These two teams are in a tight series so far and I expect it to get closer on Monday night. The Hurricanes had a lot of good chances in Game 3, but came up short on Halak. I believe that Carolina will break through early in this one to get a strong start. If the Hurricanes can also clean up their special teams, I think they will tie this series back up.
BetOnline has Boston listed as a -125 against the money line. This implies that the Bruins will win this game around 55.6 percent of the time. This line should be closer to even with how the first three games have gone. I think that this series could go the distance, which makes the Hurricanes a great pick as an underdog. I believe that Carolina has a good chance to tie this series up, making them my pick of the night.