The NHL returns to action on August 1 with five games of the Qualifying round. One of these matchups will be between the New York Rangers and the Carolina Hurricanes. These two teams saw plenty of each other this season and it should lead to an exciting series. The puck will drop between these two teams at around 12 PM Eastern time on Saturday afternoon.
New York earned a record of 37-28-5 this season, which has them sitting in the eleventh seed in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers had a nice run in the second half of the season to help get them in this position. They slowed down a bit before the season pause, losing six of their last eight before the halt. Now New York will look to find some magic as they play Carolina in the Qualifying Round.
The Hurricanes posted a record of 38-25-5 throughout the season, which helped them get the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. Carolina finished the season on a three game winning streak before the pause. The Hurricanes were a solid team this season as they tried to get back in a position to make another strong playoff run.
These two teams had some ups and downs this season, but will now meet in a best of five series to try and earn a spot in the round of 16. The Rangers and the Hurricanes met up four times throughout this season. Both teams have a good feel for each other, and the intensity will be bumped up in this series. I expect this to be a great game to welcome back hockey.
The first meeting between these two teams was in Carolina on November 7. Sebastian Aho and Dougie Hamilton scored for the Hurricanes, but it was not enough. Artemi Panarin had a goal and an assist, while Pavel Buchnevich had two assists for the Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 45 of the 47 shots against him to help give New York a 4-2 win on the road.
The second matchup shifted to New York on November 27. Adam Fox had a goal and an assist, while Artemi Panarin had two assists to help the Rangers jump out to a 3-0 lead. Ryan Dzingel and Warren Foegele both scored for the Hurricanes, but the comeback fell short. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 41 of the 43 shots he faced to help give New York another 3-2 win.
The third game of the season series stayed in New York on December 27. Lucas Wallmark had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes, but once again it was not enough. Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin both had three points, while Anthony DeAngelo, Chris Kreider and Jacob Trouba all racked in two points. Lundqvist had another strong outing, stopping 39 of the 42 shots he faced in a 5-3 win.
The most recent game between these two teams was on February 21 in Carolina. Jaccob Slavin earned two assists, but the Hurricanes still could not find a way to beat the Rangers. Mika Zibanejad had a goal and two assists. Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome both had a goal and an assist in the win. Igor Shesterkin turned away 27 of the 29 shots he faced in a 5-2 win to sweep the season series.
The Rangers had a strong power play throughout this season, scoring 52 power play goals on 227 opportunities. That was good enough for a 22.9 percent success rate. New York’s penalty kill was not great though. The Rangers allowed 52 power play goals on 230 penalty kills, which was a 77.4 percent penalty kill.
Carolina was really strong on special teams throughout this season. The Hurricanes capitalized on 46 of their 206 power play chances, which was a strong 22.3 percent power play rate. Carolina’s penalty kill held opposing teams to 39 goals on 243 power play chances, which is an 84 percent kill rate.
The Hurricanes hold an edge on special teams in this matchup. Both teams were on the penalty kill more this season than on the power play, which could hold an issue later in the playoffs. Both teams will look to play a hard game while staying out of the box. Carolina has the better penalty kill though, which could be a difference maker in this series.
The Rangers have not made a final decision on who will start in net for this series. The most likely goalie to get the start in Game 1 is Igor Shesterkin, who earned a save percentage of .932 and a 2.52 GAA in 12 appearances this season. Shesterkin went 10-2 in his starts. Lundqvist could get the start as well. He did not have his best season, earning a .905 save percentage, but had a lot of success against the Hurricanes in his three starts.
Carolina also has a question mark for goal in Game 1 of this series. I believe that the Hurricanes will start with Petr Mrazek, who earned a save percentage of .905 and a 2.69 GAA this season. Carolina could also go with James Reimer, who had a .914 save percentage and a 2.66 GAA in 25 appearances this season.
Both of these teams had their goalie’s split times in their exhibition games, which continues to leave an interesting mark for Game 1. Mrazek started a majority of the Hurricanes game this season and helped them make their run to the Conference Finals last season. New York saw a great push from Shesterkin, but the young goalie will likely be on a short leash with a more experience Lundqvist behind him.
The Rangers were able to get the better of Carolina this season, but now that all is erased. I believe that the Hurricanes will come out strong with a new game plan to get into New York’s heads early. Carolina’s power play looked good against the Capitals in their exhibition game and if they can get the Rangers to draw some penalties early, it could go to their advantage.
BetOnline has the Hurricanes listed as a -125 against the money line in this one. This implies that Carolina will win this game around 55.5 percent of the time. I think that this line has a lot of good value in it. The Hurricanes had the better season and will look to slow down Panarin and Zibanejad with their healthy defense. I do not expect Carolina to worry too much about their previous losses to New York and start this series out with a win.