The NY Islanders did that great thing and swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in round one. The Carolina Hurricanes took seven games to defeat the 2018 Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals. The two meet in New York Friday night for the first game of round two. The puck drops at 7 pm on NBCSN.
Barry Trotz brings his winning tenacity to a team he and his coaching staff have built to win him his second Stanley Cup. Jordan Eberle (4G, 2A) led the charge in round one with a goal in every game. Mathew Barzel joins him on the top line rounded out by big guy Anders Lee. They will present a formidable challenge to the Canes. The Islanders will need a stronger defense against the Hurricanes and missing Johnny Boychuk gives them a bit of a deficit to start the series. They are counting on Thomas Hickey to be fill the void until Boychuk returns- if the round goes that long.
Rod Brind’Amour has lit a fire in the Hurricanes with his fierce energy and fight for his team from the bench. As a player he has been in the playoff trenches and knows what it takes to lead a team to capture the Stanley Cup, as he did with the Canes in 2006. He has a seasoned captain in Justin Williams who also knows what it takes to win the Cup, having done to three times. Williams was on that same winning team in 2006.
Add in the partnering magic of Sebastian Aho (2G, 3A) and Teuvo Teravainen (3G, 1A) in round one and the scoring power of Warren Foegele (4G, 2A) in his first playoff series and the Canes will be pushing Trotz’s Isles to the brink. When it comes to defense, Justin Faulk was everywhere he needed to be against the Caps.
It could all come down to who is blocking the net. The Hurricanes’ Petr Mrazek wasn’t too tested by the Capitals, he only had 189 shots fired at him, with 170 saves to his credit. In contrast, Braden Holtby saved 213 of 233 shots. The Islanders Robin Lehner only had four games to work and in those he only let six goals in 136 shots through (130 saves). Lehner is up for the Masterton and Vezina because of his incredible comeback and recovery from addiction story. The Islanders could have a slight edge in this department.
Both teams are no doubt energized for this matchup. It could easily go seven games to determine who advances to the Eastern Conference Finals. Most articles and hockey analysts are betting on the Islanders. Should be fun for Caps fans to watch from the sidelines now that they no longer have a stake in the run for the Cup.