The stage is set and the Boston Bruins will take on the Carolina Hurricanes in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
It’s a quick turnaround for both teams as the regular season ended Friday night. But the Bruins will pack their bags and head to Raleigh to begin their quest for the Cup on Monday night against a team they struggled mightily against this season.
Here’s everything you need to know about Bruins-Hurricanes.
STATS HEAD-TO-HEAD (REGULAR SEASON)
Goals/Game: Boston 3.09 (15th) | Carolina 3.38 (9th)
Goals Allowed/Game: Boston 2.66 (29th) | Carolina 2.44 (32nd)
Power Play: Boston 21.2 (15th) | Carolina 22.0 (13th)
Penalty Kill: Boston 81.3 (9th) | Carolina 88.0 (1st)
— Carolina won the season series 3-0-0
Oct. 28: Hurricanes 3-0
Jan. 18: Hurricanes 7-1
Feb. 10: Hurricanes 6-0
HOW THEY GOT HERE
— Hurricanes won Metropolitan Division
— Bruins claimed first wild card spot
Game 1 — Monday, May 2 at 7 p.m. ET
Game 2 — Wednesday, May 4 at 7 p.m. ET
Game 3 — Friday, May 6 at 7 p.m. ET
Game 4 — Sunday, May 8 at 12:30 p.m. ET
Game 5 — Monday, May 10 (if necessary, TBD)
Game 6 — Wednesday, May 12 (if necessary, TBD)
Game 7 — Friday, May 14 (if necessary, TBD)
*All first-round games will be aired on NESN
Bruins Projected Lines
Brad Marchand–Patrice Bergeron–Jake DeBrusk
Taylor Hall–Erik Haula–David Pastrnak
Trent Frederic–Charlie Coyle–Craig Smith
Nick Foligno–Tomas Nosek–Curtis Lazar
Hurricanes Projected Lines
Andrei Svechnikov — Sebastian Aho — Seth Jarvis
Max Domi — Vincent Trocheck — Teuvo Teravainen
Nino Niederreiter — Derek Stepan — Jesper Fast
Jordan Martinook — Jesperi Kotkaniemi — Mertin Necas
Lauren Campbell: The Hurricanes have good depth in their bottom six but the Bruins have a very strong top two lines that when they are on. Those six can be incredibly dangerous. Couple that with the third line of Smith, Coyle and Frederic who, at one point this season, were the Bruins’ best line and seemed unstoppable. Bergeron continues to play at an elite level alongside Marchand.
Aho not only led the Hurricanes with 37 goals this season, but he also proved just how much of a difference-maker he can be on the power play with 13 goals and 15 assists. But the Canes’ bottom six has put up decent point totals and will need to take advantage of the Bruins’ defense like they did in their three meetings in the regular season.
Advantage: Hurricanes when it comes to forward depth, Bruins when it comes to top-six.
Mike Cole: The Bruins’ move to break up the first line was very much needed and certainly helps balance the scales here. The ceiling of that second line with Hall and Pastrnak is quite high, but there are questions about whether they’ll be able to do it when there’s less ice with which to operate in the playoffs. Similarly, can DeBrusk avoid a postseason drop-off on the top line?
Carolina, on the other hand, has a forward group that can play in all three zones. I get the same vibes from this top six that I got from the Islanders last season, and I expect Svechnikov and Aho to make the kind of impact Mat Barzal or Anthony Beauvillier made last spring versus Boston. I really do think this group tries to hound the Bruins’ defensemen with pressure deep in the Boston zone and will probably have some success — as it did in their meetings this season.
Scott Edwards: The Bruins head into the playoffs with a top-six that can go pound-to-pound with any team in the playoffs. Splitting up the Perfection Line was what shifted Boston from a pretender to a contender to kick off 2022 and it has paid off ever since. The Hurricanes are more talented from top to bottom when it comes to their depth, but fans have seen the Bruins receive excellent play from their third line of Frederic, Coyle and Smith. If they can find the chemistry they had earlier this season, the Bruins can match the depth of Carolina as well.
Bruins Projected Pairings
Hampus Lindholm–Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk–Brandon Carlo
Derek Forbort–Connor Clifton
Hurricanes Projected Pairings
Jaccob Slavin — Tony DeAngelo
Brady Skjei — Brett Pesce
Ian Cole — Ethan Bear
Lauren: Boston’s defensive corps looks different this time around with the addition of Lindholm. He’s been a seamless fit for the Bruins and has provided a nice boost to this blue line that already boasts McAvoy, Carlo and Grzelcyk.
But the ‘Canes allowed the fewest goals per game this season and boasted the best power play. The B’s had trouble scoring, especially on the power play, and it won’t be easy against the team that has had great success on defense.
Mike: This is Carolina’s biggest advantage, and it’s probably the club’s best path to winning the series. If the Hurricanes advance, it’s almost certainly because this unit suffocates the Boston forwards and makes it easy for whoever’s in the Carolina net. That’s when the Hurricanes are at their best, and Rod Brind’Amour has the advantage of last change more often in the series with home-ice advantage. As for the Bruins, they’ll need to answer questions about how they can handle Carolina’s forecheck. Expect the Canes to just dump and chase all series with the hope of shoveling pucks off the boards and in front of the net where we have seen the Boston defense break down at times this season.
Scott: Boston has improved drastically on the defensive end since it last faced the Hurricanes but not to the point where it will have the advantage. Led by Slavin, Carolina dominates on the defensive end and makes minimal mistakes in its own zone. The Bruins’ addition of Lindholm bolsters them big time but it’s hard to pick against Carolina here.
Lauren: This probably is one of the more intriguing storylines going into the series. Ullmark never has played in a Stanley Cup playoffs game before, and Swayman has just 19 minutes of playoff experience, which came last season. The tandem has been strong all season for the Bruins and we should expect that same kind of play moving forward.
There are a lot of questions surrounding the Hurricanes’ goalies. Frederik Andersen had a .922 save percentage in the regular season and went 3-0-0 against Boston this season. But he suffered a leg injury in mid-April and has yet to resume skating. He also is familiar with the B’s eliminating him from Cup contention during his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Antti Raanta has experience and isn’t a terrible backup option should Andersen be unable to play. But the goalie struggled in April with a .895 save percentage.
Advantage: Bruins (slightly)
Mike: Reading between the lines, it doesn’t sound overly optimistic regarding Andersen, and that’s a significant development. We know he won’t play Game 1, and The Athletic reported Andersen is expected back “at some point” during the playoffs but also noted a timeline hasn’t really been determined. That lack of clarity feels telling.
Raanta is fine, and Pyotr Kochetkov impressed in relief of Raanta down the stretch. Again, if the Carolina defense plays up to its potential, this series could look like the Bruins-Islanders battle last year where New York’s goaltending situation was in flux early. But if the Hurricanes defense struggles, the Hurricanes duo (minus Andersen) feels more likely to collapse than the Bruins’ hot-and-cold tandem.
Advantage: Slightest edge to the Bruins
Scott: It may go without saying but the goaltending in this series will be the X-factor. Obviously, on the Bruins side of things, Ullmark has been nothing short of spectacular in the final month of the season. The 28-year-old has done the work to get the first start of the series but Swayman is likely to figure into this series as well. Ullmark has zero playoff experience in his career but if his play as of late says anything, it’s that he is ready to go.
The Bruins against Andersen in the playoffs. A tale as old as time… maybe? Andersen has a big question mark surrounding his status seeing he has not skated since getting hurt. Raanta, the Hurricanes’ backup, will have to play the biggest minutes of his career if he is the starter for Carolina in this series. The Hurricanes backup has a .846 save percentage in his playoff career so this can be the Bruins’ time to take down the Hurricanes once and for all this season if he is in the net.
Lauren: Power play.
I think the X-Factor is more of a “thing” than a singular person, though you could make the case for Frederic because he cannot take unnecessary penalties that could cost the Bruins a goal like he has in the past, but I digress. Boston’s power play broke its dreadful 0-for-39 stretch against the Buffalo Sabres, but the B’s must take advantage when given the opportunity, especially against a tough defensive team like Carolina.
The Hurricanes boasted the league’s best penalty kill in the regular season, so it will be no easy task for the Bruins. But they say regular-season stats don’t matter in the playoffs, and Boston now has a clean slate to get the power play going.
Mike: Hampus Lindholm
I’m not sure there’s a more important player in the series, especially if you want to talk about just skaters. Can Lindholm really make up for the glaring differences we saw when these teams met this season? Now would be a very good time for him to be a solid, dependable, two-way defenseman who logs massive minutes and really helps solidify a defense corps that has legitimate question marks. If Lindholm is simply a passenger in this series, we’re going to see more of the same one-sided results we saw in the regular season.
Hinted at it earlier but the goaltending in this series will be what makes or breaks both these teams. The Bruins aren’t accustomed to coming into the playoffs without Tim Thomas or Tuukka Rask between the pipes. There are many questions being asked but if Ullmark or Swayman can play as they have at their best this season, the Bruins shouldn’t have a problem.
If the Hurricanes get Andersen back at any point in the series, they will be just as dangerous as they were throughout the regular season. If he doesn’t then the Bruins have to take advantage of his absence. It’s as simple as that.
Lauren: Bruins in six.
This isn’t the same Bruins team that last lost to the Hurricanes. The lines seem to be clicking, Lindholm will be a difference-maker and the Bruins are the overall healthier team. It won’t be easy, but Boston will get its revenge.
Mike: Hurricanes in six
These are two teams that are evenly matched and play a similar style. So it has to come down to depth, right? Carolina has higher upside on the back end and thus a better chance of erasing or at least limiting Boston’s offensive stars, while there are ways the Hurricanes can pressure the Bruins defense to create opportunities. This could be a frustrating series for the Bruins in which they eventually just fall short.
Scott: Bruins in seven.
There’s a run to be had by this Bruins team. At times this season, they’ve looked like one of the best teams in all of hockey, taking down all the top dogs — except for Carolina. This series will be personal quickly and if the Bruins can control themselves, get the power play going, and play their brand of hockey, it’s their series to lose.