The Columbus Blue Jackets are where many thought the Tampa Bay Lightning would be, while the New York Islanders have now progressed further than the Toronto Maple Leafs without John Tavares — a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Islanders fans.
As for the Carolina Hurricanes, well, they just didn’t give up and pushed the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals all the way to the brink for a big boil over Game 7 overtime series win!
With two matchups on tap and uncharted territory ahead, let’s take a look at Round 2.
New York Islanders (M2) vs Carolina Hurricanes (W1)
Friday, April 26, 7 p.m.: Hurricanes @ Islanders | NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports
Sunday, April 28, 3 p.m.: Hurricanes @ Islanders | NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports
Wednesday, May 1, 7 p.m.: Islanders @ Hurricanes | NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports
Friday, May 3, 7 p.m.: Islanders @ Hurricanes | NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports
*Sunday, May 5, TBD: Hurricanes @ Islanders | TBD
*Tuesday, May 7, TBD: Islanders @ Hurricanes | TBD
*Wednesday, May 8, TBD: Hurricanes @ Islanders | TBD
Islanders: Matthew Barzal, Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson and Anders Lee
Hurricanes: Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, Justin Williams and Petr Mrazek
Head To Head
The Islanders have a season record of 3-1-0 over the Hurricanes with the Canes taking a tight one goal victory in their last meeting back in January.
These two teams got to this position via two very different routes. The Islanders swept the Penguins and wrapped their series a week ago. The Hurricanes went all the way with the defending champion Capitals, clinching their series in the second overtime of Game 7. They have momentum and a lot of belief which will hold them in good stead.
If we look at the goaltender stakes, New York possesses Vezina nominated Robin Lehner who has produced a .956SV% in the playoffs thus far. For the Canes, Petr Mrazek recorded a slightly lower .899SV% but can come up big when it matters.
If we look at the names that came to the party in Round 1 for the Canes, Jaccob Slavin top scored with 9 points followed closely by Jordan Staal, Warren Foegele and Dougie Hamilton with 6 points each. Never underestimate the ability of young gun Sebastian Aho to make big plays as well. The other thing the Canes do well is not give up hope and they know how to chase down a lead. Captain Justin Williams has the ability to lead by example and this team has some exciting moments.
On the flip side, New York will be brimming with confidence after taking down the Penguins in just four games in Round 1. The silky moves of Jordan Eberle netted him four goals and 2 assist in Round 1 and Matthew Barzal was dishing out apples left, right and centre with five assists across four games. These young guys are good and with names such as Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey also posting solid numbers, the Islanders possess great depth and know how to play the puck effectively and efficiently. They also possess a league leading defensive unit and Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech will play a big part in shutting down the Canes’ top line.
Both teams have a point to prove. The Canes have not progressed to the second round since 2009 and the Islanders last advanced in 2016. The Isles lost John Tavares in the off-season and the Canes were labelled as ‘jerks’ by Don Cherry for their elaborate ‘storm surge’ celebrations. It is set to be an incredible match up between two teams who really want a taste of success.
The Hurricanes will push and and not let up, so don’t expect them to go down without a fight. However, with cup winning coach Barry Trotz behind the bench and plenty of momentum and strength, I feel the Isles will take this one in 6.
Columbus Blue Jackets (W2) vs Boston Bruins (A2)
Thursday, April 25, 7 p.m.: Blue Jackets @ Bruins | NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports
Saturday, April 27, 8 p.m.: Blue Jackets @ Bruins | NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports
Tuesday, April 30, 7 p.m.: Bruins @ Blue Jackets | NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports
Thursday, May 2, 7:30 p.m.: Bruins @ Blue Jackets | NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports
*Saturday, May 4, 7:15 p.m.: Blue Jackets @ Bruins | NBC, TVA Sports
*Monday, May 6, TBD: Bruins @ Blue Jackets | TBD
*Wednesday, May 8, TBD: Blue Jackets @ Bruins | TB
Blue Jackets: Matt Duchene, Artemi Panarin, Cam Atkinson, Seth Jones and Sergei Bobrovsky
Bruins: David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask
Head to Head
This one is tight with the Blue Jackets and Bruins taking one regulation win each during the regular season and the Bruins taking the third match up in overtime giving Boston a 2-1-0 record. The two sides have never met in the Playoffs prior to this season so this will be new territory for both sides.
Many expected Tampa Bay to be here but after a stunning Columbus sweep of the Lighting in Round 1, the Blue Jackets are in scintillating form heading into Round 2. The Jackets will be looking to take down another giant in the Boston Bruins. Since their inception in 2000-01, the Blue Jackets have never won a playoff series. This changed with their utter demolition of the league leading and record breaking Lightning. They are not to be underestimated with Matt Duchene leading the playoff charge with 7 points thus far followed closely by Artemi Panarin and Zach Werenski with 5 points apiece.
Staring them down will be playoff and Stanley Cup veterans the Boston Bruins. No stranger to the big stage and last taking the cup in 2011, the Bruins took down long time Original Six rivals the Toronto Maple Leafs in a grueling seven game series. Brad Marchand led the Bruins during the playoffs with 9 points and David Pastrnak followed closely with 6 points. The Bruins can score when it matters most and proved this during their series with the Maple Leafs.
In the goaltending stakes, Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky will be staring down Boston’s Tuukka Rask. The latter recorded a .928SV% against the Leafs whilst Bobrovsky was a rock for the Blue Jackets with a .932SV% and allowing just 8 goals on 117 shots.
The thrill of the unknown is the most exciting part of this series. As the first round proved, anything is possible and this could be the definition of that!
Expect the Blue Jackets to continue to throw down the gauntlet but I feel the Bruins’ playoff experience will shine through. Bruins in 6.
Written by Chris McRae / @ChrisMcRae04
Special to HockeyClan
Main Image: Brock McGinn #23 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrates his game-winning goal with teammates against the Washington Capitals at 11:05 of the second overtime period in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Capital One Arena on April 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. The Hurricanes defeated the Capitals 4-3 in the second overtime period to move on to Round Two of the Stanley Cup playoffs. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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