How they got here… Bruins- 4-0 series win over MTL Hurricanes- 4-3 series win over NJ Season Series… 4-0 Bruins Previous Playoff Meeting… 1999 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals (4-2 Bruins) RLD ‘Playoff Formula’… Bruins- 70.56 Hurricanes- 41.68 RLD ‘Playoff Formula’ Predicts… Bruins in 4 or 5 Tale of the Tape… Forwards- Edge: Bruins… Boston has established 2-3 reliable scoring lines. Defensemen- Edge: Bruins… Chara and Wideman get the upper hand; plus, the B’s might get Andrew Ference back in this series. Goaltending- Edge: Hurricanes… Ward has ice in his veins – 3-0 in Game 7’s lifetime. Thomas still has to prove he can win the big game in the playoffs. Special Teams- Edge: Bruins… This is easy. ‘Canes went 2/29 on the PP against NJ; Boston was 4/16 on the PP and killed all 8 of Montreal’s power plays. Coaching- Edge: Hurricanes… Paul Maurice has quality experience in the postseason; Claude Julien hasn’t been past the 2nd round yet. Experience- Edge: Hurricanes… Carolina’s forwards have more experience than Boston’s; vice versa for Boston’s defensemen. But the kicker here is goaltending… Ward is money in the playoffs. Team X-Factors… Bruins- Michael Ryder… Ryder compiled 45 points in games where the Bruins won, and just 8 points in the games they lost. He was a big key for the B’s in round one against Montreal, as he had 4 goals and 3 assists in the series; he really came on strong at the end. The 2nd line is hot, but they can’t afford to go cold. Ryder is the x-factor here for Boston… Hurricanes- Ray Whitney… Whitney has been dynamite on the Canes’ new top line with Staal and Chad LaRose. He has 5 points in 2+ games with those two, and is getting more quality chances. He is definitely a wild card for this team, because I assume Zdeno Chara’s top assignment will be Mr. Staal. Key Injuries… Bruins- D Andrew Ference (undisclosed, return for series is possible) D Matt Hunwick (spleen, out for series) LW Marco Sturm (knee, out for playoffs) Hurricanes- None Keys to the Series… Bruins- 1. Stop Carolina’s top line… Carolina’s hopes rest on the shoulders of Staal and the #1 unit. The top unit of Chara and Aaron Ward will likely follow them around in this series. If they can contain Staal, Whitney, and LaRose, Boston could breeze through. 2. Shake off the rust… Out of the 3 teams that swept through round one, I’m most worried about the Bruins; the Habs didn’t challenge them at all. Tim Thomas has to be sharp, and they can’t let the ‘Canes gain confidence/momentum at the Garden in Boston. Hurricanes- 1. Win the special teams battle… This could be the make-or-break battle for Carolina. Their power play was awful against New Jersey, going 2/29. They have to find a way to convert on the man advantage against Boston’s solid PK. 2. Offense from defense… Tim Gleason, who didn’t score in the first 82 games, was the only ‘Cane to score in the first round (OT, Game 2). That needs to change… Corvo and Babchuk especially have to step up. Why the Bruins will win… There’s no question they have all the pieces to win the Cup, but their less-than-stellar playoff resume as a franchise leaves some doubt. Even though Thomas is not truly playoff-tested, he does have a great group of d-men in front of him. All he has to do is give ‘em a chance to win. I like the versatility of their forwards… Lucic, Savard, Kessel, Krejci, and Bergeron all bring different elements to the table. I have a hard time thinking Boston won’t take this series, but we’ll see. Why the Hurricanes will win… Cam Ward will need to steal this series. The power play will need to turn things around. Their top line will need to overcome the matchup against Chara. They’ll need to get clutch contributions from guys like Brind’Amour, Samsonov, and Cole. Oh, they’re going to need to have more magic left in them! It seems like to many things NEED to happen for Carolina to advance. Don’t get me wrong, I think the ‘Canes have all the momentum coming off their stunning finish in New Jersey, and could win this series. But I just don’t like the matchup against a Bruins squad that has been great all season long. PREDICTION… BRUINS IN 6
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