For the third season in a row, the Carolina Hurricanes have made it to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They are taking on the New Jersey Devils, who are in the postseason for just the second time in the past decade.
The Hurricanes have been dealing with some depth and offensive woes, which led many to think they would be on the receiving end of an upset elimination at the hands of the New York Islanders. But that clearly did not happen as Carolina was able to take out the Islanders in six games.
The New Jersey Devils prevailed in seven games over the super team New York Rangers. Despite their attempts at stacking up for a deep playoff run, the solid system that the Devils employ was too much for the Rangers to handle as New Jersey took control of the latter half of the series.
Will the Hurricanes be able to stifle the offence of the Devils just enough to let themselves squeak through? Or will the Devils be able to handle the forecheck of the Hurricanes?
Round 1 stats and head-to-head matchup
|TEAM/STAT||W||L||OTL||GF||xGF%||GA||CF%||PP%||PK%||Record vs. Opponent (regular season)|
|New Jersey Devils||4||3||0||17||51.3%||17||53.5%||16.7%||82.1%||2–1–1|
Expected goals for percentage (xGF%) and Corsi for percentage (CF%) stats are in all situations from moneypuck.com.
Carolina Hurricanes Round 1 recap
Maybe to the surprise of many, the Carolina Hurricanes found a way to band together and end the season of the New York Islanders in six games in the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Islanders were one of the most popular upset picks heading into the playoffs for many reasons. But the Hurricanes got off to a quick start and were able to hold on despite losing some of their momentum as the series went on.
The biggest concern for Carolina heading into the playoffs was the state of their offence. The strategy focusing on quantity over quality of shots combined with losing Andrei Svechnikov to injury was already causing severe difficulties for the team. They could barely score. And going up against a team like the Islanders, one that is known to be able to shut down opponents and is backed by one of the best goalies in the league in Ilya Sorokin, it seemed to be a recipe for disaster for the Hurricanes.
But a goal less than five minutes into Game 1 set the tone for Carolina and gave them the quick start and early lead they needed to swing things in their favour. It looked as if there would be a major turning point in Game 3 when the Islanders scored four goals in 2:18 late in the third period. But the Hurricanes responded well with a 5–2 win in Game 4 as the two teams traded off wins until Carolina ended it in six.
New Jersey Devils Round 1 recap
Early on, this series looked to be an easy win for the Rangers. Two consecutive 5–1 victories to open the first round put the Devils’ backs against the wall. But as true good teams do, they adjusted.
With this being their first playoff appearance with this build of the team, there is always the argument that they will not succeed since they don’t yet know how to play playoff hockey. Some teams take a couple of playoff runs to figure this out. The Devils took two games. They quickly adjusted, reset, and came out for Game 3 a different version of themselves.
Three consecutive victories for the Devils in which they held the Rangers to just two goals flipped the script in an instant. Despite New York taking Game 6, New Jersey decisively took Game 7 and the series.
Akira Schmid deserves a ton of credit for coming in for the third game and representing the turnaround in the series. He stepped in, put the team on his back with a .951 SV% and 1.38 GAA in five appearances. That’s not even mentioning his two shutouts.
Despite finding a way to score just enough to win, it was against the Islanders who also don’t score much so it did not take much to outscore them. The Hurricanes are the lowest-scoring team to make it through to the second round. And with the loss of Teuvo Teravainen to a broken hand, the prognosis for Carolina’s scoring capabilities becomes even worse.
That will be the main difficulty they face. Posing so little of an offensive threat, their opportunities to win are going to be limited and rely on the performance of their defence and particularly goaltender. With how strong Schmid is looking in the crease for the Devils, Carolina may not get many chances to score.
Antti Raanta was stellar in the first round and made the saves he needed to in order to keep the Hurricanes in games. If the defence of the Hurricanes can limit shots and high-quality scoring chances, they’ll give themselves the best chance to win. The Devils did not score much more than Carolina did in the first round, but Raanta is no Igor Shesterkin.
All season long, the Devils have had underlying numbers that were really only beat out by the Hurricanes. This suggests that New Jersey can play Carolina’s game. And it appears they can play it well enough to pose a serious threat to the Hurricanes.
This is extremely promising for New Jersey since as of right now, the Devils have the advantage on paper. But a lower-scoring first round will need some addressing from New Jersey’s side.
Timo Meier, the big trade deadline acquisition, was held off of the scoresheet in the first round. Not what New Jersey was hoping for when they brought him in. If he is healthy after taking a bad hit late in Game 7, he will be a player to watch in this series, specifically looking at whether or not he can bounce back.
Carolina Hurricanes versus New Jersey Devils prediction
With many factors at play, the New Jersey Devils appear to be set up the best right now to win. A healthier roster and a goalie on a hot streak are a recipe for success in the postseason.
4–2 New Jersey Devils