Carolina opens as one goal favorites against the Blueshirts with the over/under set at six
The tri-state area will be well represented in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. Both the Rangers and the Islanders begin play tomorrow in the NHL Bubble in Toronto. The action begins at noon when the Carolina Hurricanes face off against the New York Rangers.
When the NHL season was paused back in March, there was a massive race taking place in the East for the final two wild card spots in the conference. The Hurricanes were sixth in the East with 81 points on the season. However, the New York Rangers, who finished only two points behind Carolina, find themselves as the 11th seeded team in the Eastern Conference Qualifiers. These squads are evenly matched, but a stacked Metropolitan Division makes it so that only one of these franchises will move on to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Hurricanes and Rangers have faced off four times already this season, and the Blueshirts have absolutely dominated the matchup. New York swept the season series against Carolina, outscoring the Hurricanes 17-9. Furthermore, Carolina lost three of those four games by two goals or more. The recent history and the stats favor the Rangers at this moment in time.
The most important player on the Rangers is Artemi Panarin. If you are unfamiliar with this guy, learn his name because he is a transcendent hockey talent. The 28-year-old winger has been the best player on the Rangers since joining the team last off-season. He leads the New York in points and is third in the league with 95 points overall on 32 goals and 63 assists. The Hart Memorial Trophy finalist will be the best player on the ice for either team, so that is a huge advantage for the Rangers.
Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, they will be short-handed on defense, which is tough because they are a team known for good D. Carolina will be without starters Brett Pesce and Dougie Hamilton, two of the best players on the team. This could spell disaster for the Hurricanes, whose defense allowed the ninth fewest goals in the NHL this season. It would be like if the San Francisco 49ers lost Nick Bosa and Richard Sherman right before a playoff game. The Hurricanes are still good, but they are not as strong of a team without those two guys in the lineup.
I’ve been conversing with some of my fellow sports geniuses. We all seem to be in agreement that the Rangers will not only win this game, but they will eventually go on to win the series. I just feel that this is all building up to be a perfect storm working against the Hurricanes, ironically enough. The Rangers have hit their offensive stride, they owned the Hurricanes this year, and Carolina will be without the services of two of their best defensive players. The Rangers will win this game without hitting the over.