The Boston Bruins
This potential matchup finds the Canes taking on a familiar foe
The Carolina Hurricanes have a storied history with the Boston Bruins. One of the most memorable games of the 2019 season for me personally was the December 3rd contest against the Boston Bruins which left me on the edge of my seat before the heartbreaking two goals scored by the Bruins in the last five minutes of the third period.
The Hurricanes only faced the Bruins one time this year due to the pause of the regular season. Last season was ended unceremoniously by a series that no Caniac falls asleep at night without thinking about, the Bruins sweeping the Canes in the conference finals of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The playoff series against the Bruins was the story of a Hurricanes team that couldn’t generate enough offense to make up for defensive mistakes. Tuuka Rask has made a name for himself as an elite goalie for a reason, and the Canes could not create enough points to stay in the series.
The Bruins are certainly a team that will capitalize on these defensive mistakes. Clearing the puck out of the zone is essential because there will be no do-overs when the puck is in the back of the net. This is something I noticed while rewatching a few games of the playoff series: the puck bounced back and forth between players on the Canes D-line instead of being cleared out.
In the aforementioned regular-season game of the 2019 season against the Bruins on December 3, the Canes looked very strong against the Bruins who were on a seven-game winning streak. Reimer had an excellent showing, including an impressive save in the first period where he had to travel post to post quickly to stop a shot off of a pass in front of the net.
The Bruins scored with only 4:05 left in the game when Jake Gardiner was stripped of the puck and the Canes blue line was caught outside of the zone. The second goal was scored off of a shot made after 28 seconds of defensive zone time for the Bruins.
Two keys from this game should be applied to a playoff series against the Bruins: clear the puck sharply to avoid mistakes that occur when passing between defensemen, and create offensive chances by doing more than dumping the puck in the zone.
The Canes had 24 shots on goal compared to the Bruins 34, so there was no shortage of scoring chances. However, dumping the puck into the zone not only limits quality chances for the offense, but can also result in mistakes like the first goal of the game.
To summarize, the Canes can excel in a series against the Bruins by creating quality offensive chances through a clear plan when approaching the blue line, and minimizing defensive mistakes by clearing the puck and limiting zone times.
Next up is the team that was part of best storyline of the 2018 season, when the Canes were able to overthrow the defending Stanley Cup Champions.