Eastern Conference Semifinals: Bruins vs. Hurricanes

Kessel_canes_medium

After an eight day layoff following their sweep of the Montreal Canadiens in the first round, the Bruins will face off in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Carolina Hurricanes Friday night at the TD Banknorth Garden. The Hurricanes looked like they had already booked their tee times for the off-season before pulling off an incredible last minute comeback against the New Jersey Devils last night to advance to the next round and face the Bruins. The Bruins have had their way with the Hurricanes this year and swept the season series 4-0, but the 'Canes look like a completely different team than the one that the Bruins saw earlier in the year. The Hurricanes went 17-5-2 to close out the regular season after losing 5-1 to the Bruins on February 17th.

Keys to Victory for the Bruins

Don't let Cam Ward look like Patrick Roy
Cam Ward has always performed better in the playoffs than in the regular season. For whatever reason, this guy just gets up for big games. The Bruins need to test him early in this series. Cam Ward is good but he isn't this good.

Keep your composure
The Bruins can not afford to have any more players suspended during the playoffs. Don't let the league have any excuse to subject any players to Colin Campbell's Wheel of Random Justice. Just because Carolina has had a dismal power play in the playoffs (6.9%) doesn't mean that you can take stupid penalties. Carolina was the most disciplined team in the league this year. The Bruins can't get baited by resident pest Tuomo Ruutu's games.

Continue to shutdown Eric Staal
In the four games against the Bruins this year, Staal had 0 points and was a minus-6. In the first round, Staal had 5 goals to go along with 2 assists.

Don't take your foot off of the gas pedal
The Hurricanes proved in the Devils series that there is no quit in them and that no lead is safe.

Aaron Ward and Mark Recchi's Inside Knowledge
There are a lot of players left on Carolina's roster from the 2006 Stanley Cup team. Aaron Ward thinks that Carolina still uses a lot of the same systems that they implemented when he was with the team, especially on special teams. Even if Ward and Recchi don't know the 'Canes X's and O's, they still probably know a lot of dirt about these guys which could really come in handy for trash talking on the ice.

Continue to roll all 4 lines
The Hurricanes are not as deep as the Bruins, so some of their top line players see a lot of ice time. If the Bruins can continue to utilize all four lines and stay fresh, they can have a distinct advantage over the 'Canes especially if this series goes long.

Keys to Victory for the Hurricanes

Hope that Zdeno Chara's new baby keeps him up all night
Apparently, they don't teach you how to count to 9 in Slovakian public school.

Make Thomas work
When he is on his game, he is one of the best puckstoppers in the league, but he can be rattled.

Keep Sergei Samsonov on the bench as much as possible
Sergei Samsonov is softer than an 85 year old man watching a Rosie O'Donnell nude scene. It is fitting that Samsonov has found a home in a part of the country where watching someone go around in circles at high speeds for hours at a time without really going anywhere is the main form of entertainment.

Win one of the first 2 games in Boston
The Carolina Hurricanes have developed a pretty solid following. The RBC Center will not be an easy place to play. If the Hurricanes can take one of the first 2 games in Boston, it could be a longer series than expected.

Leading Regular Season Goal Scorers

Bruins


G A P +/- PIM
'08-'09 - Phil Kessel 36 24 60 23 16

Hurricanes
G A P +/- PIM
'08-'09 - Eric Staal 40 35 75 15 50

Leading Playoff Goal Scorers

Bruins


G A P +/- PIM
'09 Playoffs - Michael Ryder 4 3 7 5 2


G A P +/- PIM
'09 Playoffs - Phil Kessel 4 2 6 2 4

Hurricanes
G A P +/- PIM
'09 Playoffs - Eric Staal 5 2 7 4 2

Goaltending

Bruins


Tim Thomas

#30 / Goalie / Boston Bruins

5-11

201

Apr 15, 1974



GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
'08 -'09- Tim Thomas 54 3259 36 11 7 4 114 2.10 1694 1580 .933 5


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
'09 Playoffs - Tim Thomas 4 240 4 0 0 0 6 1.50 111 105 .946 0

Hurricanes


Cam Ward

#30 / Goalie / Carolina Hurricanes

6-1

200

Feb 29, 1984



GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
'08-'09 - Cam Ward 68 3928 39 23 5 10 160 2.44 1901 1741 .916 6


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
'09 Playoffs - Cam Ward 7 427 4 3 0 0 15 2.11 242 227 .938 1

'08-'09 Season Series

Bruins record vs. Carolina: 4-0-0
12/20 vs. CAR 4-2 W
12/27 @ CAR 4-2 W
1/10 vs. CAR 5-1 W
3/17 @ CAR 5-1 W

Questions

- How will the time off affect the Bruins?

- Are the Hurricanes really this good?

- Will the Real Cam Ward please stand up?

- How much better would this series be if this franchise still played in Hartford?

- How will Andrew Ference be coming back from injury?

- Will the Hurricanes make the Bruins sit through another painstakingly long ceremony to honor a mediocre player who is dressed in full pads?

- Judging by his playoff numbers, how psyched are you that the B's didn't trade for Erik Cole?

Injury Report

Bruins
LW Marco Sturm: Out for Season (knee)
D Andrew Ference: Probable (undisclosed injury, by most accounts a groin injury)
D Matt Hunwick: Out for Series (Spleen)

Carolina
No Injuries to Report

Series Schedule

Game 1: Carolina at Boston, Friday, May 1, 7:30 p.m. on NESN HD
Game 2: Carolina at Boston, Sunday, May 3, 7:30 p.m. on VERSUS
Game 3: Boston at Carolina, Wednesday, May 6, 7:30 p.m. on NESN HD
Game 4: Boston at Carolina, Friday, May 8, 7:30 p.m. on NESN HD
Game 5: Carolina at Boston, Sunday, May 10, 7:30 p.m. on VERSUS
Game 6: Boston at Carolina, Tuesday, May 12, 7:00 p.m. on NESN HD
Game 7: Carolina at Boston, Thursday, May 14, TBD on NESN HD

Eyes on the Storms

Canes Country (SBN): Bubba and Cory do some great work over there. Their daily Hurricanes Newsstand will point you in the right direction for news and stories on this series from both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Canes Now: The News & Observer's Hurricanes blog (think Boston.com's Bruins Blog).

Tracking the Storm: Blog from Carolina Hurricanes official website. Think of it as Carolina's version of Bish's Blog.

Matchup Breakdown

Edge BOSTON CAROLINA Edge
Tim Thomas Goaltending Cam Ward
23.9% Power Play 18.7%
82.4% Penalty Kill 80.4%
1.42 5 on 5 Ratio 1.00

51% Faceoffs 51.3%

12.5 PIMs/game 9.8

30.3 Shots/game 32.6
2.32 GAA 2.70
3.29 Goals/game 2.88

 

*All statistics based on regular season

Prediction: Bruins in 6 games

 

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