The Wraparound: Goaltending not the problem for Bruins vs. Hurricanes

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The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television information.

• Check in with all of Thursday’s Stanley Cup Playoff action with the NHL Rink Wrap right here

Igor Shesterkin was the center of attention for the Rangers in more ways than one on Thursday

• Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar had a dominant game to help his team outlast the Predators for a 2-1 OT win

The Boston Bruins will have a couple of changes to their Game 3 lineup on Friday when they try to get on the board in their First Round series against the Carolina Hurricanes. Some of those changes will be by necessity (Hampus Lindholm‘s injury taking him out of the lineup). Others will be strategic in an effort to change something about what has been, so far, a one-sided season-long matchup.

The main change in the latter category will be a goalie switch that will see Jeremy Swayman replace Linus Ullmark in net.

Ullmark started the first two games of the series, allowing eight goals on 57 shots (an .860 save percentage) in his first career playoff action. It was a split net during the regular season with Ullmark and Swayman splitting the playing time nearly 50-50 (with nearly identical results) but it was Ullmark that got the start when the playoffs began and it has taken then just two games to try something new.

Switching goalies is the obvious and easy change at this point, but the Bruins’ problems in this series run far deeper than who is in goal.

Ullmark has not been great through the first two games, but he is hardly the reason the Bruins are returning home and facing a 2-0 series deficit. The team in front of him, quite frankly, has been awful and is still unable to solve anything the Hurricanes are doing against them this season.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 First Round schedule, TV info]

In five head-to-head meetings this season (regular season and playoffs) the Bruins are 0-5, been outscored by a 4-26 margin, have never been closer than three goals in any final score, and so far in the series have been an undisciplined mess that takes too many reckless and needless penalties. Add in a dreadful power play unit (one that has been dreadful against everybody lately, not just Carolina) and you have the perfect storm for a one-sided series.

Sure, maybe a goalie switch can spark something, but the clear problem for the Bruins here just seems to be the simple fact that Carolina looks like a better hockey team. They are faster, better offensively, every bit their equal defensively, and, quite shockingly, are more physical than the Big Bad Bruins. It is why Boston has just four goals against the Hurricanes in five games this season and why they generate fewer chances and expected goals against the Hurricanes than they do against the rest of the league (and they allow so many more against Carolina).

If the Bruins can not figure out a way to solve Carolina’s speed advantage and rock-solid defense, the goalie change is going to be nothing more than putting new tires on a car that has no engine.

The best chance for Boston to make this is a series might actually be Carolina’s goaltending situation. If Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta are not ready for Game 3 the Hurricanes could be relying on third string goalie Pyotr Kochetkov who has just four games of NHL experience. He stopped 30 of 32 shots against the Bruins after replacing the injured Raanta in the Hurricanes’ Game 2 win.

NHL PLAYOFF GAMES TODAY

Carolina Hurricanes at Boston Bruins, 7 p.m. ET — TNT (CAR leads 2-0): It is not technically a must-win game for the Bruins, but they can not afford a 3-0 deficit in this series and a sixth consecutive loss to the Hurricanes. Carolina has a 26-4 goal advantage in the five games this season and looks to be in complete control of this series. The biggest question for them is which goalie will start. Yes, that is a big question, but with the way this series is going it might not matter much. The Bruins need to do a better job keeping their composure and staying out of the penalty box. Scoring on the power play might be beneficial as well.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30 p.m. ET — TBS (Series tied 1-1): These next two games will go a long way toward telling us if this Toronto Maple Leafs team is different than the past five Toronto Maple Leafs teams that could not get out of the First Round. They had one dominant win to open the series, did not seize momentum in the second game, and have now lost home-ice advantage as the series shifts back to Tampa Bay. If they can get a split in these next two games against the defending back-to-back Stanley Cup champions, then they will be in a good position going back to Toronto for a pivotal Game 5 in the series. But if they lose these next two games? It is going to be a real problem for them. They look faster and more skilled than Tampa Bay through two games, but that has been the case in a lot of their recent playoff series’. They also have to be more disciplined and now allow Tampa Bay’s special teams to take over.

St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild , 9:30 p.m. ET — TNT (Series tied 1-1): There have been two games in this series and two lopsided results in each direction. After losing 4-0 in Game 1, the Wild offense erupted early in Game 2 to power them to a 6-2 win thanks in large part to a Kirill Kaprizov hat trick. In other words, it is tough to get a feel for how this series is going to go right now as the teams have exchanged equal punches in the first two games. You still have to like Minnesota’s goalie edge in this series, but the Blues offense is capable of erupting at any moment.

Los Angeles Kings at Edmonton Oilers, 10 p.m. ET — TBS (Series tied 1-1): On paper the Oilers are the more talented team, and that was on display in their 6-0 Game 2 win on Wednesday night. The Oilers badly needed that game because if they had lost the first two games of the series, at home, to a heavy underdog the walls would have been falling in around them. They have the most pressure here not only because they are the better team on paper, but with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on the roster there is an expectation that they should be Stanley Cup contenders right now. The Kings are ahead of schedule in their rebuild and playing with house money at this point. Having said that, the Kings are no pushover and no joke defensively, while their center depth of Anze Kopitar, Phillip Danault, and Quinton Byfield is going to give them a chance. Edmonton is going to need more of the Mike Smith they saw in Game 2 and less of the Mike Smith they saw in Game 1 of the series.

SATURDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 3: Florida Panthers vs. Washington Capitals, 1 p.m. ET — ESPN (Series tied 1-1 )
Game 3: Colorado Avalanche vs. Nashville Predators, 4:30 p.m. ET — TNT (COL leads 2-0)
Game 3: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers, 7 p.m. ET — TNT (Series tied 1-1)
Game 3: Dallas Stars vs. Calgary Flames, 9:30 p.m. ET — TNT (Series tied 1-1)

PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup previews
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning

Hurricanes vs. Bruins
Penguins vs. Rangers
Panthers vs. Capitals
Blues vs. Wild
Avalanche vs. Predators
Oilers vs. Kings
Flames vs. Stars

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info
First Round, Stanley Cup predictions
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Why your team will (and will not) win the Stanley Cup

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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Wraparound: Goaltending not the problem for Bruins vs. Hurricanes originally appeared on NBCSports.com