2022–23 Stanley Cup Playoff previews: Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Islanders

The battle of Sebastian Aho versus Sebastian Aho is bound to be a hard-fought one for both combatants.

For the third season in a row, the Carolina Hurricanes have won their division. In the previous two, they have failed to make it past the second round of the playoffs. That is the big challenge for this team in the 2023 postseason. They have the roster, the composition, and the system to do it. But can they finally pull it off?

The New York Islanders, on the other hand, barely scraped their way into the playoffs, taking until the final game of the season to finally clinch the spot. The battle the Islanders have shown is commendable and will go a long way to remaining strong and competitive in the playoffs.

In 2018–19, the last time these two teams met in the playoffs, the Hurricanes swept the Islanders. With the way the rosters are looking this season, that does not seem to be as likely an outcome.

Season stats and head-to-head matchup

Carolina Hurricanes5221911326658.4%21359.9%19.8%84.4%3–1–0
New York Islanders423199324250.0%21749.6%15.8%82.2%1–3–0

Expected goals for percentage (xGF%) and Corsi for % (CF%) stats are in all situations from moneypuck.com.

Carolina Hurricanes storyline to follow

The Hurricanes are another example of a team that can’t quite break through a barrier to hit the Stanley Cup Finals. In his fifth season as head coach, Rod Brind’Amour has made the playoffs every season. The first four have resulted in a Conference Finals appearance, two second-round losses, and a first-round loss.

Things were looking up for Carolina to find a way back to the Conference Finals this season. They’ve been at the top of the Metro Division for most of the season, as always they have some of the best team defense in the league as they have the second least goals against, and the roster is as strong as it’s ever been.

That is until Andrei Svechnikov went down with a season-ending injury. He is just one player but he is one of their best forwards, plays top-line minutes, and is a high-event player who puts up stats in every category. His absence in the lineup is a huge loss and puts the depth to the test.

One also has to start wondering if the pressure will increase on the coach if the Hurricanes were to lose out early again. It is hard to imagine a coaching change at this point as Carolina has been so strong the past four seasons, but after seeing the results of the Boston Bruins’ unexpected coaching change last offseason, the option is there.

New York Islanders storyline to follow

It took until the very last game of the season, but the New York Islanders did sneak their way into the playoffs. They battled their way slowly but surely up the standings in the latter half of the season.

The major turning point for the Islanders was the Bo Horvat trade. It was a generally disappointing season up until that point. New York was barely clinging onto a playoff spot at the end of the 2022 calendar year. But then, a disastrous January saw them post a 4–8–3 record, which left them two points shy of a wild card spot with three more games played at the time.

This trade, which was uncharacteristic for Lou Lamoriello, gave the team just enough of a momentum boost to turn things around. Despite losing Mathew Barzal shortly after this trade, the Islanders were able to band together and make the playoffs to avoid missing two seasons in a row.

As expected, this is not a team that dominates through offensive prowess. They will be the second lowest-scoring team to qualify for the playoffs. But, they do have a surprising amount of scoring depth. Despite only having three players who hit 50 points, the Islanders did end up with 15 who hit 20 points (and two more with 19 points). They may not be a dangerous team offensively, but each line and position can pitch in.

They will be relying on their defence, structure, and specifically goaltending to get them through these playoffs, especially as they try to compete in a star-studded and stacked Eastern Conference.

This is a core that has shown they can overperform come playoff time. They may not be stacked the way their opponents are, but they are built to succeed in playoff hockey. They could be trickier to eliminate than expected.

Matchup overview

In the skating positions, the Hurricanes have a slight advantage. The forward and scoring depth leans their way, ever so slightly. Basically, the middle of Carolina’s lineup can score a bit more than New York’s. But at the top and bottom, it is very close to equal. Which, given the reputations these teams possess, comes as quite the surprise.

Defensively is where the Hurricanes stand out. The defensive core in Carolina is significantly more offensively inclined than what New York has. And this is an important distinction between the two teams that leans in the Hurricanes’ favour with how the game this season played out. The offensive explosion leaguewide bodes well for a team with this much offense from their defense.

Ilya Sorokin is poised to be a gamechanger for this reason. He has had one of the best starts to a career of any goaltender with 16 shutouts in his first 136 games (one every eight or nine games).

The Hurricanes have a tendency to count on high volumes of shot attempts, regardless of how good or bad the chance is. So all the Islanders have to do is allow the Hurricanes to fire off as many low-quality chances as they want because they know they have an excellent goalie who can take care of the rest.

With the style of play the Hurricanes employ, they do a good job at making their goalies look good. The aggressive forecheck they use to control play will make it extremely difficult for the Islanders to get anything going. And they do not have the offensive weapons to take over the game otherwise. So, the Islanders are going to have to rely on their scrappy, physical game to try and slow the Hurricanes down.


The way the Hurricanes are built does not leave a lot of room for the Islanders to succeed. With their strong forecheck and dominating presence, Carolina should be able to control play and stifle the Islanders. But given how New York is built, they could find a way to wear down a team already hard-pressed for depth.

4–3 Islanders

Sean Laycock

Sean is a stubborn, lifelong Oilers fan who lives by the motto "There is always next year".

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