Carolina Hurricanes: Round 1 Series Preview vs. Predators

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 9: Sebastian Aho #20 of the Carolina Hurricanes skates against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on March 9, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/NHL/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 9: Sebastian Aho #20 of the Carolina Hurricanes skates against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on March 9, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/NHL/Getty Images) /
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Apr 6, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck (16) is congratulated by center Jordan Staal (11) right-wing Sebastian Aho (20), and defenseman Dougie Hamilton (19) after his third-period goal against the Florida Panthers at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 6, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck (16) is congratulated by center Jordan Staal (11) right-wing Sebastian Aho (20), and defenseman Dougie Hamilton (19) after his third-period goal against the Florida Panthers at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /

Forwards

When breaking down a playoff series, you usually see similar production in teams’ top players. This is not the case here. While Sebastian Aho was the best point producer on either team heading into the playoffs, the top 5 Hurricanes point producers would have been the top producer on the Predators roster. Part of this is due to injury, but this is a team that doesn’t score a lot.

Nashville’s top forward scorer was Filip Forsberg who only played in 39 games, but only recorded 32 points. He was the only Nashville forward to pass the 30 point plateau. Only 6 others passed the 20 point mark. To put this into context, Carolina had 4 forwards pass the 40 point threshold. This should already show that the Canes offensive prowess is far more obvious than the Tennessee outfit.

While it’s obvious that the Canes have the offensive firepower to outmatch the Predators, there’s another aspect of the forward game we have not talked about so far. Carolina’s forwards are just better in their own zone. Jordan Staal is one of the best defensive forwards in the league, and everyone under Rod Brind’Amour has taken leaps and bounds in their own zone.

Teuvo Teravainen and Nino Niederreiter are two of the best defensive wingers in the organization, both coming a long way under Brind’Amour. While Nashville has forwards that are capable in their own end, Brind’amour’s systematic approach to set the team up just better suits the playoff atmosphere than the system set up by John Hynes.

In terms of depth, I think it’s incredible to even question this. Carolina’s top 3 centers had 57, 43, and 38 points respectively going down the lines. When you consider that Teravainen missed considerable chunks of the season due to both COVID and a concussion, this is no small feat. Carolina’s offense was producing like a well-oiled machine.

When you get to the 4th lines, we’ve seen what Nashville’s 4th line is capable of in the 5-0 loss in the final game of the season. However, a healthy Canes roster with Cedric Paquette bringing his physicality to the ice, and Jordan Martinook not wanting to be outdone, will bring a new side of the crash and bang approach that Paquette brought to the Lightning during their championship run last year.

So overall? The Carolina Hurricanes’ forward core seems to be far more dominant heading into the series, specifically from a numerical standpoint. It’s younger, it has fewer miles on the clock, and the Canes forward core has fewer injury concerns than that of the Predators. This series will favor Carolina’s forwards the longer it goes on.