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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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – MARCH 30: Dougie Hamilton #19 of the Carolina Hurricanes advances the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on March 30, 2021, in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Hurricanes 2-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – MARCH 30: Dougie Hamilton #19 of the Carolina Hurricanes advances the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on March 30, 2021, in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Hurricanes 2-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Defenseman

Carolina’s pride is the strength of its blueline. It’s no secret the Carolina Hurricanes boast what is probably the best defensive unit in the National Hockey League. While Nashville’s blueline is not a DIY project, it’s not as outstanding as Carolina’s, which speaks to the strength of the Canes’ defensive unit. This is not just from a points perspective; Carolina’s unit is better in its own zone, too.

Starting with the top defensive point producers for each team, Dougie Hamilton recorded 32 assists and 10 goals in 55 games. Roman Josi recorded 8 goals and 25 assists in 48 games. There’s just no reasonable way to say that the Swiss defenseman had a better offensive year than the Toronto native here. Hamilton’s offensive additions from the blueline have been invaluable.

As for the best defensive defenseman on each team, for Carolina, it’s Jaccob Slavin; for Nashville, Mattias Ekholm. Ekholm is one of the best defensive defenders the league has had over the past 3 seasons. He’s been incredible for the Predators. It’s why when Nashville was supposedly selling, he was so desired by other contending teams. Jaccob Slavin? Well…. just watch.

As far as the rest of the depth, you get matchups like Brett Pesce against Ryan Ellis. That’s a very close debate, and you could argue either defender being superior to the other, but you can argue this the entire way down the defense core. Jake Bean against Dante Fabbro, and it goes on. If you want to continue this debate, both defensive units are so deep, and just loaded with talent.

Overall, Carolina’s blueline is probably stronger, just because of the slight difference in high-end talent, but there’s no denying how brilliant the Nashville defensive unit is either. Both cores are built to succeed in the playoffs and both have talent up and down the 3 pairings. If you like defensive hockey, this will be a very interesting series for you.