After defeating the Boston Bruins in seven, Carolina will take on the New York Rangers in game one of the second round. Carolina will be the host as the Division winners. This is not the same as the regular season but the Hurricanes went 3-1 against the Rangers including winning both games at Madison Square Garden in New York City. This series is going to be entertaining, and the Hurricanes are the strong favorites coming in.
Now, take everything I just said and throw it out the window. This is a seven-game series. Nothing that has happened before or will happen after changes this series. Carolina will be playing with the knowledge that a victory in either of these games at home will ensure they play again at PNC Arena. Getting off on the right foot in this series is the far more important benefit of winning the opening game.
Carolina needs to stay out of the box. Against Boston, they had a parade to the box at times and while the Bruins had high-end talent, the Rangers at times can be four guys and a goalie. You cannot let them build momentum on the power-play because then you give them a route into the game as the Penguins did. Keep the game in your control, and the Rangers are clearly outmatched.
As for team news, there’s still no update on Frederik Andersen and the coaching staff has said that there will not be an update until he starts skating. It’s expected to be the same six defensemen that were ever-present in the series against the Bruins and the same forward core that won the big game seven. It’s going to be the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach from Carolina.
Antti Raanta was one of the stars of the first round and the Finnish netminder will get his fifth consecutive playoff start against his former employers. He’ll be one of the five former Rangers seeking the chance to eliminate their old teammates. If they can do that and see the Canes progress, we can call this season undeniably successful, but they need to win. To do that, they need to hold home ice.