The first series to start of the 2022 NHL postseason, the Carolina Hurricanes vs. the Boston Bruins which could be a fun series out of the Eastern Conference. Both of these teams were eliminated in the second round of last year’s playoffs. The Hurricanes beat the Predators in six games in the first round and then lost to the eventual Cup Champion Lightning in five games. The Bruins beat the Caps in five games and then lost to the Isles in six games.
The Hurricanes won the Metropolitan Division with a 54-20-8 record, finishing the regular season on a six game win streak. The Canes had a great regular season and were leaders of the NHL on both ends of the ice. Their offense was solid, scoring an average of 3.38 goals per game, ninth most in the NHL and they scored on 22% of their power play chances, 13th most in the NHL. Defensively they were even better. Carolina gave up the fewest goals in hockey this regular season, an average of only 2.44 goals per game. They allowed the fewest shots on goal in the NHL as well, an average of 28.2 per game and not only are they allowing the least amount of shots to be generated against them, they’re very good at preventing those shots from going in the back of the net. Frederik Andersen had a fantastic season in goal for the Canes this season with a second best in the NHL 2.17 GAA, third best in the NHL .922 save percentage and four shutouts. He’s still out with a lower body injury though heading into the playoffs and the Hurricanes will have to go with Antti Raanta for the first round. Rantta has been a pretty reliable backup this year with a 2.45 GAA, .912 save percentage and 2 shutouts but in his backup role, he was mostly playing against teams that missed the playoffs. The Hurricanes have the best penalty kill percentage in the NHL, killing off 88% of their penalties.
The Bruins finished the regular season with a 51-26-5 record, ending up in the first Wild Card spot in the East. They played great to close out the regular season with five wins in their last seven games and 17 wins in their last 25 games. The B’s have been a very good defensive team as well this season, allowing a fourth fewest in the NHL average of 2.66 goals per game. They allowed the third fewest shots on goal in hockey, an average of 28.7 per game. They’ve killed off 81.3% of their penalties, ninth best in the NHL. The Bruins tandem goaltenders Jeremy Swagman (2.41 GAA, .914 save percentage, 3 shutouts) and Linus Ullmark (2.45 GAA, .917 save percentage) have both been very good this season and I’d expect them to likely swap starts unless one of them gets really hot during the playoffs. Boston’s offense has struggled a bit at times this season but they have an incredible top six with Marchand, Bergeron and DeBrusk on the top line and Haula, Hall and Pastrnak on the second line. The B’s have averaged 3.09 goals per game, 15th most in the NHL. That isn’t for a lack of trying though. The Bruins have generated the second most shots in hockey, an average of 36.1 shots per game, only behind the Florida Panthers (who lead the NHL in scoring this year) but haven’t converted on those, with the third lowest shooting percentage in hockey, scoring on only 8.5% of their shots. They’ve scored on 21.2% of their power play chances, ranking 15th in the NHL in that category.
These two teams played three times this season and the Hurricanes crushed the Bruins in all three of those games. The Canes won 3-0 in a shutout at home on October 28th, then they blew out the B’s 7-1 in Boston on January 18th and won another blowout shutout, winning 6-0 in Boston on February 10th. Andersen played incredible against the Bruins this season, starting in all three games and posting a 0.33 GAA, .990 save parentage and two shutouts in those games. Carolina likely will be without him for the series though, so I don’t expect the goaltending to be as good with Raanta.
Even with the way the regular season series between these teams went, I’d give the slight edge to the Bruins with Freddy Andersen out. I expect a very competitive series between these teams in a series that likely goes six or even seven games. I’ll take the Bruins to win the series for a unit and the series to go over 5.5 games for two units.
I think the Bruins have the potential to go on a run and contend to win the Stanley Cup if their whole team is clicking together and there’s enough value on them at +1800 for me to take the B’s to win the Cup for a unit.
I expect the games between these teams to be low scoring grinds and will likely look to target unders. For Game 1, I’ll go with the under 6 for a unit. Typically when I take a team to win a series, I’ll always take them to win Game 1 as well. But this is a series that’s close enough that with the Canes at home and how they played the Bruins this season, I’d rather stay off it in Game 1 and just let it ride for now.
1u Bruins: Stanley Cup Champions (+1800)
1u Bruins (+104)
2u Bruins/Hurricanes over 5.5 games (-162)
Game 1 Bets
1u Bruins/Hurricanes under 6 (-130)