Carolina Hurricanes: Series Preview vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

TAMPA, FLORIDA - APRIL 19: Alex Killorn #17 of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Jake Gardiner #51 of the Carolina Hurricanes fight during a game at Amalie Arena on April 19, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FLORIDA - APRIL 19: Alex Killorn #17 of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Jake Gardiner #51 of the Carolina Hurricanes fight during a game at Amalie Arena on April 19, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
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RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 19: Sebastian Aho #20 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrates following a goal scored during the first period in Game Two of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Nashville Predators at PNC Arena on May 19, 2021, in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 19: Sebastian Aho #20 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrates following a goal scored during the first period in Game Two of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Nashville Predators at PNC Arena on May 19, 2021, in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Forwards

Tampa Bay’s biggest strength is its forward core. Boasting the NHL’s answer to the 1920’s “Murderer’s Row” from the New York Yankees, this forward core can score for fun whenever it’s needed.

Headlining the forward are Steven Stamkos and the aforementioned Kucherov. Kucherov is a former Hart winner for league MVP and Art Ross winner for the NHL’s top point producer, while Stamkos has previously won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard award for the league’s top goalscorer. This duo has been the opening double act of this Lightning roster for a long time.

Behind them, it doesn’t let up. Brayden Point has recently emerged as one of the best centers in the National Hockey League. Anthony Cirelli has stepped up to be that elite shutdown center every team needs. You then sprinkle in guys like Killorn, Ondrej Palat, Pat Maroon, Barclay Goodrow, and Blake Coleman who provide that depth and sandpaper that becomes so essential in the post-season.

To accompany their grizzled veterans, they have prospects like Alex Barre-Boulet and Ross Colton coming through to provide that youthful energy and naivety that every team needs to make a deep run in the postseason.

Not too dissimilar to Carolina, there’s a mixture of youth and experience throughout the attacking half of the lineup. While Carolina’s overall core is a considerable amount younger than this grizzled Tampa team, there’s not a major difference in talent level between the two rosters that will be taking the ice.

Sebastian Aho has become one of the premier players in the organization’s history. Andrei Svechnikov is viewed as one of the league’s elite wingers despite his tough postseason so far. Teuvo Teravainen, Martin Necas, Nino Niederreiter and Vincent Trocheck round out a deadly top 6. Jordan Staal, Brock McGinn, Jesper Fast, and Warren Foegele provide some talented scoring depth as well.

When we talk about the forwards from these two teams, it’s clear that the Lightning have an advantage in terms of scoring and production. Carolina’s top end of the talent pool just isn’t quite as high as Tampa Bay’s. Carolina doesn’t have that Maurice “Rocket” Richard winner, they don’t have that Hart winner for league MVP.  So up front, it’s clearly an advantage for Tampa Bay.