Rangers vs. Hurricanes Game Three Preview For 8/4/2020

Blueshirts look to avoid the series sweep against Carolina tonight

Well, this is going just about as bad as it can go for the Rangers. After dominating the regular-season series, the Rangers have dropped two straight games to Carolina. New York now finds itself down two games to none and on the brink of heading home. I think the Rangers will be able to stave off elimination today, but I don’t have confidence in them to turn come all the way back and win the series.

Carolina was in the driver’s seat the whole game when the Hurricanes and Rangers faced off yesterday. They did take an early one nothing lead, but Artemi Panarin came alive to tie the game up at one apiece a little over midway through the first period. After that, it was all Carolina all the way through. The Hurricanes’ Andrei Svechnikov chose an excellent time to have his first NHL hat trick, as the 20-year-old winger recorded a goal in every period. It marked the first postseason hat trick in Carolina Hurricanes’ history. Jordan Marinook also added a goal of his own to give the Canes the eventual 4-1 win.

There were a few encouraging things the Rangers did in that game yesterday as well as a few discouraging things. Unfortunately, Henrik Lundqvist was given very little help from the Rangers’ defense. King Henrik was only able to make 30 out of 34 saves for a save percentage below 90%. Furthermore, the Blueshirts were held to even fewer shots on goal then they had in game one. I was sure that the Rangers’ offense would take a step back in game two, but I didn’t think they would end up being that bad.

One of the positive takeaways from the game was that the Rangers look to have found a little bit of rhythm on the power play. New York went 1/4 on the Power Play yesterday, a vast improvement from when they went 0 for 7 on the power play opportunity on Saturday. Beyond that, there were very few positive results from yesterday’s 4-1 shelling.

At the moment, the spotlight looks too big for New York. I am confident in Henrik Lundqvist. The goalie has recorded the most postseason starts in Rangers’ history, so he is no stranger to playing in meaningful games. Also, Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad do have four points in the last two games, but the rest of the team has been lackluster on both offense and defense.

Unfortunately, the Rangers have not been as tough as the Hurricanes have been. Carolina has been able to dictate the pace of play and is forcing the Blueshirts to play Carolina-style hockey rather than New York’s brand of hockey. The Hurricanes do a good job of crowding the net on defense so that every shot feels like it is contested or blocked. While I believe the Canes have the gameplan to win the series, I don’t think they close out the Rangers tonight.

I am picking the Blueshirts in this game. Before play started up again, I thought that the Rangers would win the series in five games because of offense. However, I changed my prediction following game one. I now believe the Hurricanes will win the series three to one in four games. I think the Rangers will snag their only win tonight. New York is desperate, so I expect them to come out and hit the Canes hard and play fast like they have something to prove. Plus, I love the idea of having Henrik Lundqvist in net for an elimination game. His past playoff experience will pay off for the Blueshirts as they win their only game of their series without hitting the over-under that is set at 5.5.

Rangers 2 – Hurricanes 1

Rangers vs. Hurricanes Game Two Preview For 8/3/2020

Carolina is favored in Game Two with the O/U set at 5.5

Simply put, the New York Rangers need to be much better offensively if they want to have any chance in this series. They head into tomorrow’s game down 0-1 to the sixth-seeded Carolina Hurricanes. The Blueshirts need to take today to figure out a better way to attack the Canes offensively. And with the potential return of Dougie Hamilton, I don’t see that task becoming any easier for the Rangers.

Yesterday’s 3-2 loss to the Hurricanes almost felt destined to happen from the beginning of the game. It only took the Hurricanes a minute and one second to score the first goal of the game and take a lead that they would never look back from. There were some moments of hope for the Blueshirts. A goal in the second period from Mika Zibanejad made it a one-score game. For a while, it looked like the Rangers were in it, but the Canes would score another goal to take a 3-1 lead about midway through the third period. Amazingly, the Rangers were able to score a shorthanded goal with 1:55 left in the game. However, it was too little too late as Carolina’s defense would close out the Blueshirts for the 3-2 victory.

This game serves as a perfect example of inadequacy on the Power Play. 18 penalties were called in the game leading to 14 power-play opportunities. These teams combined to score a total of one goal on those 14 power plays. It was the Hurricanes who scored that goal. As for the Rangers, they finished the day 0 for 7 on the power play opportunity, which is abysmal. I can say with confidence the Rangers probably would have won that game if they had been able to capitalize on just one of those power-play chances. There’s nothing they can do about it now though except look at the film and make adjustments as a team.

Another issue was that the Rangers defense was not giving Henrik Lundqvist any help. The Hurricanes were able to get off 37 shots in the game while New York was held to just 26. Furthermore, most of the shots that the Canes got off were good. Henrik did finish the game with 34 saves, and a lot of them were spectacular. The problem is that he had to make so many spectacular saves because the defense was not doing a good job of protecting the net from Carolina’s attackers.

If Dougie Hamilton makes his series debut for the Hurricanes, that could spell trouble for the Blueshirts. New York already struggled against Carolina without him in the lineup. I don’t think the Rangers will have an easier time scoring against a defense that will be getting back one of its most important players.

This game has the feeling like Carolina is going to win it. The Hurricanes looked more prepared for the spotlight than the Rangers in game one, and they certainly played that way too. I think the Blueshirts are still too inexperienced and don’t have a sense of urgency right now. I believe that will cost them this game and put them in a position to be swept on Tuesday. Hurricanes win by the same score as last game, so they do not hit the over.

Hurricanes 3 – Rangers 2

Rangers vs. Hurricanes Preview For 8/1/2020

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.

Rangers 4 – Hurricanes 2