Second Round Preview: Carolina vs. NY Rangers

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·7 min read
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Check out previews for the Florida-Tampa Bay and Colorado-St. Louis series, which both get underway tonight.

CAROLINA HURRICANES (M1) VERSUS NEW YORK RANGERS (M2)

The Carolina Hurricanes eliminated the Boston Bruins in seven games, while the New York Rangers also went the distance in the first round against Pittsburgh prior to advancing. The Hurricanes and Bruins were both perfect on home ice and neither team was able to secure a win on the road. Meanwhile, Rangers managed to rally from a 3-1 series deficit versus the Penguins.

The Hurricanes finished six points ahead of the Rangers in the Metropolitan Division, which will grant them home-ice advantage in the series. New York won three of four games played at Madison Square Garden in the opening round and had one victory on the road, which came in Game 6.

Carolina was led offensively by blueliners Jaccob Slavin and Tony DeAngelo, who both registered eight points. Slavin had two goals and six assists, while DeAngelo had one goal and seven helpers. Vincent Trocheck (three goals, four assists) and Teuvo Teravainen (two goals, five assists) generated seven points apiece. Seth Jarvis, Nino Niederreiter and Andrei Svechnikov co-led the team with three goals each.

New York had Mika Zibanejad and Adam Fox reach double digits in the opening round of the postseason. Zibanejad racked up three goals and eight assists, while Fox had three goals and seven helpers. Chris Kreider topped the team with five goals and he added two assists. Andrew Copp (four goals, three assists) and Artemi Panarin (three goals, four assists) earned seven points each as well. Ryan Strome was no far behind with six points, including five assists. He also posted a team-high 27 shots on goal.

Antti Raanta started six of the seven matches in Carolina’s first-round series. He was forced to leave one of them and didn’t get the other because of an upper-body injury. Pyotr Kochetkov got the chance to make two appearances as a result due to Frederik Andersen’s absence. Raanta was superb in Round 1 with three wins, a 2.37 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.

Igor Shesterkin started all seven games for the Rangers. He ended up with four wins, a 3.66 goals-against average and .910 save percentage. Shesterkin was pulled twice, which gave Alexandar Georgiev some work in relief. He allowed at least three goals against in all but one outing.

The play of Shesterkin will be a big storyline going into the series. He was the best player on the Rangers during the regular season, while earning finalist nods for the Vezina Trophy and the Hart Trophy. However, it was an inconsistent first round for Shesterkin against the Penguins. Shesterkin was getting better as the series progressed, which could bode well for New York. Pittsburgh was down to the third-string goaltender on their roster for the majority of the first round because of injuries to Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith. Louis Domingue filled in admirably for parts of the series, but it eventually became the major mismatch in the crease that most expected it to be. Carolina got through their opening round matchup without their number one netminder and the play of Raanta was a big reason for that.

The Rangers deserve plenty of credit for their ability to come back, but finding success that way again against the Hurricanes will be far more difficult. Pittsburgh carried most of the play in the series and the Hurricanes are better at that type of game. Carolina is also more structurally sound and stingier defensively, so playing from behind against them is not a recipe for success. Carolina has the tools to avoid the same fate as Pittsburgh, but a return to form for Shesterkin would go a long way for the Rangers. New York needs to make Carolina chase the game, so they can take advantage of mistakes and benefit from Shesterkin’s ability to shut the door on the opposition.

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Players to Watch:

Sebastian Aho - Aho was held off the scoresheet in four of the final five games of Round 1. He concluded the series with two goals and three assists, which included two multi-point performances. It was a bit of an uncharacteristic start to the postseason for Aho, who has racked up 40 points (16 goals, 24 assists) in 41 career contests in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He had three goals and five helpers in three games versus the Rangers during the 2020 playoffs.

Max Domi - Domi supplied five points (two goals, three assists) in seven matches during the opening round against Boston. He was the hero of Game 7 with two goals and one assist in a 3-2 victory. Domi is capable of providing more depth scoring for the Hurricanes and that effort could give him a boost of confidence going into Round 2.

Alexis Lafreniere - Lafreniere had a three-game point streak for New York from Games 3 to 5. The Rangers will need more production from their “Kid Line” in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Lafreniere, Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko will be counted on for depth scoring versus a Carolina squad that can get offense from just about everywhere in the lineup.

Adam Fox - Fox was all over the scoresheet in the first round of the postseason. He picked up at least one point in each match against Pittsburgh, while accounting for three goals and seven assists during a seven-game scoring spree. Fox had one goal and four points on the man advantage during that span along with 21 shots and 13 blocks.

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Additional Series Notes

Frederik Andersen still hasn’t resumed practicing with the Hurricanes and he won’t be an option until there is some progression on that front. He has been out since Apr. 16 due to a lower-body injury and his status is currently doubtful for Carolina’s second-round series.

Jordan Martinook sat out the final four games of Round 1 because of a lower-body ailment. He has been skating and could be available to return during the series.

Barclay Goodrow missed the final six matches of Round 1 due to a lower-body injury. He hasn’t returned to the ice yet and he will miss at least the first two games versus Carolina, but he hasn’t been ruled out for a return in the series.

The Hurricanes went 5-for-36 on the power play, which ranked 12th overall following the first round, and permitted one shorthanded goal against.

The Rangers scored nine goals on 19 man-advantage chances for a 31.6% success rate, which ranked third overall. They also allowed a shorthanded goals against.

Carolina’s penalty kill surrendered six goals while being shorthanded 29 times.

New York gave up six power-play goals against as well, while being down a man 23 times.

The Rangers had the most giveaways in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 142, while ranking second in takeaways (71). The Hurricanes had the most takeaways (83) in the opening round.

New York has scored the most second-period goals in the postseason with 15.

The Rangers have allowed the most goals against (29) and shots against per game played (44.3) in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

New York is tied for the second-most 5v5 goals in the playoffs (18). The Hurricanes have 16.

Carolina had three wins and no losses when leading after the first period as well as four wins and no losses when leading after two periods.

The Hurricanes tied for the league-lead with four wins in the postseason when scoring first.

The Rangers were the only team to post multiple wins (2) when trailing after the first period in the fist round.

New York also became the first team to post three straight comeback wins in elimination games in the same series.