Hurricanes Have 3 Advantages in Round 2 Matchup with the Devils


Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is set. The Carolina Hurricanes and the New Jersey Devils will go head to head, the Hurricanes with home-ice advantage. One team plays a run-and-gun style, the other a staunch yet throw-everything-at-the-net team. The elite forwards of the Devils versus the elite defenders of the Hurricanes.

2023 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 2 New Jersey Devils Carolina Hurricanes
New Jersey Devils Carolina Hurricanes (The Hockey Writers)

The Devils are a good matchup for the Hurricanes, because of the advantages that the Hurricanes have over them. The Hurricanes have the playing style and experience to get the best of the Devils for the opportunity to move on to the Eastern Conference Final.

Hurricanes Have More Playoff Experience on The Blue Line

Of the Hurricanes’ six regular defencemen, only Jalen Chatfield had never played a game in the postseason before this year. Brent Burns has the most experience, with 95. In total, the Hurricanes’ blue line has a combined 277 playoff games between them.

Jalen Chatfield Carolina Hurricanes
Jalen Chatfield, Carolina Hurricanes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Conversely for the Devils, they have Kevin Bahl who is experiencing his first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Dougie Hamilton is on the other end of the spectrum with 61 postseason contests under his belt, for the highest on the Devils’ back end. The six regulars have 152 career playoff games total between them all.

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Having this in the back of their mind, Rod Brind’Amour and the Hurricanes can use that to their advantage. A relentless forecheck from the forwards should eventually wear down the defence and force them to make mistakes.

Hurricanes Can Limit Chances & Take Chances

Through the first round of the playoffs, both the Devils and Hurricanes controlled the flow of offence. The Devils had 434 chances for and 388 chances against. The Hurricanes had 411 chances for and 355 against. The Devils played one more game than the Hurricanes.

Sebastian Aho Carolina Hurricanes New York Islanders
Sebastian Aho #20 of the Carolina Hurricanes battles Sebastian Aho #25 of the New York Islanders during the third period in Game One of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena (Photo by Josh Lavallee/NHLI via Getty Images)

Looking just at shots, the Hurricanes outshot the New York Islanders 211-174 in the first round. The shots in the Devils/New York Rangers series were closer; 206 for and 195 against in favor of the Devils. The Hurricanes had five more shots for and 21 fewer shots against in six games instead of seven. This will be a big difference in this series as the Devils are not known for their shot blocking and they could pay the price to the tune of more goals scored against them.

Hurricanes Defenders Can Still Heat Up Offensively

When it’s the playoffs, depth is huge. When your best players are on the bench recovering for their next shift, you want the team to stay afloat and not get outscored. Part of that lies in the defense pairings. Defenders can also contribute a lot offensively. In the regular season, the Hurricanes blueliners had 59 goals, the most in the NHL.

Defencemen contributed two goals in Round 1 for the Devils, while the Hurricanes only had one. Given the 59 goals they scored in the regular season, it’s surprising that they haven’t scored more for the Hurricanes this playoffs. Brent Burns has had 27 shots in six games. That’s an average of 4.5 shots per game. When you shoot that much, eventually they start going in.

As Round 2 gets underway, look for the Hurricanes to take advantage of the Devils’ inexperienced blue line, lack of shot blocking, and lack of elite offensive defenders. My money is on the Hurricanes beating the Devils in five games.

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