The Carolina Hurricanes have many reasons for optimism ahead of Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series against the visiting Boston Bruins on Monday in Raleigh, N.C.
After all, the Metropolitan Division champion Hurricanes outscored the Bruins by a 16-1 margin to sweep their three-game season series.
Carolina also won its final six games to set franchise records in victories (54) and points (116) for a single season.
While all of that is positive, coach Rod Brind’Amour doesn’t have to think too hard about a fairly recent negative. All he has to do is recall watching his team’s offense go limp last spring in an ill-fated second-round series loss to eventual champion Tampa Bay.
“You learn from your past. These guys that have been here before, that’s what’s driving them and has all year,” Brind’Amour said. “Does it translate into the way we play in the playoffs? I don’t know, but it’s the fuel that’s certainly there. Does it make the difference? We’ll find out.”
Andrei Svechnikov (three goals, three assists) and Teuvo Teravainen (one goal, five assists) each recorded six points in the season series versus Boston. Sebastian Aho had two goals and two assists in the set to boost his club-best totals in both categories (37, 44).
The offense was more than enough for Frederik Andersen, who turned aside 98 of 99 shots to win all three meetings in the series.
Andersen, a winner of 35 games this season, hasn’t played since exiting a contest against Colorado on April 16 with an undisclosed injury. Antti Raanta is in line to start the series opener, with rookie Pyotr Kochetkov waiting in the wings.
“We’re focused on what we can control,” Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said. “Rod has said Freddie is doing everything that we’ve asked him to do and more. He’s working out daily.
“… But we’re very confident in the other guys who are here that they can provide us what we need. We’ll just see how things roll.”
The Bruins were rolling along with six wins in a seven-game stretch to put them in line for a chance to secure the third seed in the Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay, however, won its season finale to send Boston into the top wild-card spot.
Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron scored his team’s lone goal in the season series versus the Hurricanes. He enters this set having erupted for nine points (five goals, four assists) in his past three games played.
Bergeron, however, joined Brad Marchand (team-leading 48 assists, 80 points), David Pastrnak (club-best 40 goals), Taylor Hall and defensemen Charlie McAvoy among others in sitting out the finale.
Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said he expects his team to be “100 percent healthy” for the start of the series. He also is keeping an open mind when reflecting on the Bruins’ troubles against the Hurricanes this season.
“Obviously, they had their way with us this year,” Cassidy said. “Some of that was a while ago, and I think our team’s in a much better place than when we played them earlier in the year. So we’re not going to take too much stock in that.”
The best-of-seven series will continue Wednesday with Game 2 in Raleigh.
–Field Level Media
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