Hurricanes Playing Great Hockey as Eastern Conference Finals Start
The Eastern Conference Finals start tonight when the Boston Bruins host the Carolina Hurricanes in a best-of-seven series. It’s the first time the Boston Bruins have made the Conference Finals since 2013. That is the last year they won the Stanley Cup as well. Carolina hasn’t made the Conference Finals since 2009 when they were swept by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Needless to say, it’s been a long time coming for these two fan bases to experience hockey this late in the playoffs. They should be ready for a old-time rivalry renewed.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, CBC, Sportsnet, TVAS LINE: Bruins -148; O/U: 5.5 Under -141.
After sweeping the New York Islanders in the semifinals, the Hurricanes have been waiting to learn the outcome of the Boston Bruins and Columbus Blue Jackets series. As a result, the Islanders haven’t played a game since May 3rd. They’ll be well rested when they step on the ice. Boston only wrapped up their series on Monday night and will have just two days’ rest prior to Game 1. Goaltender Tukka Rask was phenomenal against the Jackets. He posted a .948 save percentage in the series, including a shutout in Game 6.
This, That, and a Dart Throw
The Carolina Hurricanes once had a heated rivalry with the Boston Bruins. It goes way back to the days when the franchise was the Hartford Whalers. The red-hot Hurricanes, and their fans, will have more than ancient memories on their minds tonight. This also marks the first playoff matchup between the teams since Carolina's last trip to the postseason in 2009.
The Hurricanes won 21 of their final 30 games to earn the top wild card in the East. They may be underdogs to the second-seeded Bruins but they have rattled off six consecutive wins. They swept the New York Islanders after stunning defending Stanley Cup champion Washington in seven games. Boston finished tied for the second-highest point total entering the playoffs. They still had to come from behind in both series to wins. They took the final three games to oust Columbus in the second round after outlasting Toronto in seven games.
It may not be a controversy but Carolina has a decision to make in goal after Petr Mrazek was injured in Game 2 against the Islanders. He was replaced by backup Curtis McElhinney, who posted three wins with a 1.56 goals-against average and .947 save percentage. Mrazek said the injury was a non-issue after practicing fully on Monday and Tuesday. Coach Rod Brind'Amour noted that his main concern is to "make sure both guys are 100 percent. That obviously trumps everything." Defenseman Jaccob Slavin has 11 assists to lead Carolina in scoring. Teuvo Teravainen, Jordan Staal, Sebastian Aho and Warren Foegele have nine points each in the playoffs. Aho torched Boston for four goals and seven points in the three regular-season meetings.
Boston features one of the more imposing top lines in the game. David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, have combined for 16 goals and 32 points in the postseason. The trio collected 10 points in winning two of three matchups against Carolina this season. The Bruins' fortunes will ride on Tuukka Rask, who recorded a .948 save percentage and 1.71 GAA versus Columbus. He capped the series with a 39-save shutout. D Charlie McAvoy will miss Game 1 while serving a one-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head.
The Dart Throw: Bruins 2, Hurricanes 1
NHL Eastern Conference Finals Betting Odds & Trends
|Carolina is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games|
|Carolina is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games|
|The total has gone OVER in 5 of Carolina's last 7 games|
|Carolina is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games on the road|
|Carolina is 15-8 SU in its last 23 games on the road|
|The total has gone OVER in 5 of Carolina's last 7 games on the road|
|Carolina is 1-5 SU in its last 6 games when playing Boston|
|The total has gone OVER in 6 of Carolina's last 7 games when playing Boston|
|Carolina is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games when playing on the road against Boston|
|Boston is 8-4 ATS in its last 12 games|
|Boston is 6-2 SU in its last 8 games|
|The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Boston's last 6 games|
|Boston is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games at home|
|Boston is 16-5 SU in its last 21 games at home|
|The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Boston's last 7 games at home|
|Boston is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing Carolina|
|The total has gone OVER in 6 of Boston's last 7 games when playing Carolina|
|Boston is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games when playing at home against Carolina|
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