The NHL Playoffs are set to kick off on Aug. 1, and there is plenty of terrific series on tap. The Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers are competing in one of these series, and this should be a terrific battle.
New York was not going to be a playoff team if the pandemic did not shut down the season, but they are now getting a second chance. Carolina was the 6th seed in the East when the shutdown occurred, and that is where they will be seeded to begin the playoffs.
This series is best-of-five, with the winner moving on to the traditional round of 16. According to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Carolina Hurricanes are -130 over the New York Rangers in game one of the series on Saturday.
Panarin Looks to Carry Shorthanded Rangers
The New York Rangers were in a bit of a rebuilding phase, but that all changed with the addition of Artemi Panarin. The Rangers signed Panarin to a huge free-agent deal prior to the 2019-20 season, and Panarin is having an MVP-caliber season.
Panarin leads the team with 63 assists and 95 points and has carried the Rangers on the offensive end of the ice. Mika Zibanejad leads the team with 41 goals this season, but Panarin is the key to the Rangers on offense.
New York does have a big advantage in goaltending in this series, and that could help them pull off an upset. Igor Shesterkin will likely be in net for the Rangers in game one, and he has stopped close to 96 percent of shots faced at even strength.
The Rangers do give up some goals, but they have an offense that can get the goals right back. New York will be without Brendan Lemieux for the first two games of this series due to suspension.
Carolina Needs Defense to Hold Up
The Carolina Hurricanes don’t have a team that can score goals in a hurry, but they can really defend. Carolina was giving up less than 2.85 goals per game before the shutdown, and this is a trend that will need to continue.
Petr Mrazek will likely get the call for the Hurricanes in net for game one, and he has battled injuries this season. Mrazek will need to lean on his defense in front of him against a terrific Rangers offense.
The Carolina Hurricanes averaged 3.19 goals per game this season, and most of that was on the strength of their first line. Sebastian Aho leads the team with 38 goals and 66 points this season, and the Hurricanes will need him to be great in this series.
Carolina Wins Game 1 of Series
If the New York Rangers were at full strength for this game, then the Rangers might be the pick in this one. Playing with Lemieux is going to hurt the Rangers for the first two games of this series.
New York does have much better goaltending in this series, and that could end up playing a big role. The Rangers just struggle to score goals at times, and a long drought will bury them in this game.
The Rangers can very well go on to win this series, but it will be the Hurricanes that come away with the win in the series opener. Even with so much uncertainty heading into the playoffs, this one feels like it’s a game that the Hurricanes will control.
Head to FanDuel and bet the Carolina Hurricanes -130 over the New York Rangers in game one of the series.