Well folks, the NHL trade deadline has come and the deadline is ringing in, and the Eastern Conference division has been a hive of activity! The New York Rangers have snatched up Patrick Kane, the Boston Bruins have added Tyler Bertuzzi to their ranks, and the Devils have welcomed Timo Meier to their squad.
But the real eyebrow-raiser has been Carolina’s moves, nabbing Jesse Puljujuarvi and Shayne Gostisbehere. As we head towards the playoffs, it begs the question: can the Hurricanes stack up against the competition in the Eastern Conference?
And speaking of competition, let’s take a gander at the current playoff picture, complete with seeding and first-round matchups, if the regular season were to end today, March 2, 2023.
NHL Eastern Standings
2023 NHL Eastern Playoff Bracket
We’ve reached the mid-point of the 2022-23 NHL season. The regular season will come to a close on April 13, 2023, and shortly after, we’ll be diving headfirst into the playoffs. Lets take a look at the Eastern bracket if playoffs started today.
Please note the NHL rankings are to the right.
Eastern Playoff Predictions -1st Round Picks
Boston vs. Pittsburgh
First-round matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Eastern Conference’s top seed, the Boston Bruins. Based on the Penguins’ recent performance, it’s looking like a tough uphill battle for them.
Now, my prediction for this series is a Bruins victory in game 6. The Penguins have certainly shown some fight, but I think the Bruins’ skill, experience, and depth will prove too much for them. I’m calling it: a 4-2 victory for the Bruins over the Penguins
Toronto vs. Tampa Bay
First-round matchup between the Lightning and the Maple Leaf’s. Based on the Leaf’s bad luck in playoffs, I still feel strongly that this may be their break out year for victory.
Now, my prediction for this series is a Leafs victory in game 7. The Lightning know what it takes to win Stanley cups, but I think the Leafs skill, experience, and depth will prove too much for them. I’m calling it: a 4-3 victory for the Maple Leafs over Tampa.
Carolina vs. New York Islanders
While the Islanders have a newfound powerhouse in their midst with the arrival of the dynamic Bo Horvat, my analysis leads me to believe that the Hurricanes hold the upper hand in this thrilling showdown. With superior depth and unmatched talent, I fully expect the Hurricanes to outplay the Islanders and emerge victorious from this fierce battle on the ice.
Now, my prediction for this series is a Canes victory in game 6. I’m calling it: a 4-2 victory for the Canes over the Islanders.
New Jersey vs. New York Rangers
Welcome to what promises to be a titanic clash between two elite outfits in the Metropolitan Division. With no shortage of firepower on either side, the Devils and Rangers are set to engage in a battle royale for supremacy.
The Devils boast an enviable array of top-tier talent, headlined by the electric Jack Hughes, who has been nothing short of a revelation this season. With an impressive haul of 36 goals, 38 assists, and 74 points, the young forward has established himself as one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the game.
Meanwhile, Dougie Hamilton, the blue line maestro, has been a stalwart on defense and a key contributor on the attack, racking up 18 goals, 40 assists, and 58 points.
However, the Rangers are no slouches themselves, having assembled a formidable roster anchored by one of the league’s premier netminders. With the recent acquisition of the legendary Patrick Kane, the Broadway Blueshirts have sent a clear signal to the rest of the league that they mean business. With such a potent blend of talent and experience, it’s difficult to envision anyone stopping the Rangers in their quest for glory.
Now, my prediction for this series is a Rangers victory in game 7. I’m calling it: a 4-3 victory for the Ranger over the Devils after a long hard fight.
Will the Rangers repeat defeat against Carolina in the second round?
If my predictions are correct, the Canes will face the Rangers in the second round. The Carolina Hurricanes lost against the New York Rangers in the second round of the NHL playoffs for several reasons.
Firstly, they struggled on the road, losing all six away games, becoming the first NHL team to do so.
Secondly, their power play was ineffective, only scoring two goals in seven games.
Thirdly, their second-leading scorer in the regular season, Andrei Svechnikov, only contributed one goal in the series.
Fourthly, their backup goaltender, Antti Raanta, struggled in the final two games and was injured in Game 7.
Finally, they lacked discipline, giving the Rangers too many opportunities on the power play, leading to crucial goals in Game 7.
Road to Victory
If the Carolina Hurricanes want to overcome last season’s playoff loss and make a deeper run this year, there are several key areas they will need to focus on.
Firstly, they will need their top scorers, especially Andrei Svechnikov, to perform well in the playoffs. If he can regain his regular-season form and contribute consistently, it will provide a significant boost to the team’s offense. Additionally, players like Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas will need to step up and contribute as well.
Secondly, the Hurricanes will need to improve their power play. If they can convert more of their chances with the man advantage, it will give them a significant advantage in close games. They should focus on finding the right combinations and executing their strategies efficiently.
Lastly, the Hurricanes need to maintain discipline and avoid giving their opponents too many power play opportunities. They have a strong penalty kill, but it can only do so much if they are constantly shorthanded. The team should focus on staying out of the penalty box and playing a smart, disciplined game.
If the Hurricanes can improve in these areas, they have the talent and depth to make a deep run in the playoffs this season. They have a strong defensive core, solid goaltending, and a balanced lineup that can compete with any team in the league.