Hurricanes vs. Devils playoff preview

Canes-lg2_medium Lou-lg_medium

The Blogs

Canes Country vs. In Lou We Trust

The Carolina Hurricanes roared into the postseason going 9-2 over thier final 11 games. And their reward? A date with the Devils, a squad that has cruised along near the top of the Eastern Conference for most of the season, with or without a healthy Martin Brodeur.

The Storyline

After failing to reach the playoffs in the two seasons after their 2006 Stanley Cup championship, are the Hurricanes ready to make a postseason impression once again?

The Numbers

Carolina New Jersey
 Record 45-30-7 11th 51-27-4 5th
 Pts % .591 11th .646 5th
 Goals For/Game 2.88 16th 2.90 14th
 Goals Against/Game 2.70 8th 2.52 4th
 5-on-5 GF/GA 1.00 16th 1.25 2nd
 PP% 18.7 18th 18.9 15th
 PK% 80.4 19th 79.9 20th
 Shots/Game 32.6 6th 32.9 4th
 Shots Against/Game 29.5 12th 29.5 12th
 FO % 51.3 8th 51.3 8th

The most significant difference between these two teams is the 5-on-5 Goals For/Against ratio, which tips heavily in New Jersey's favor.

Goaltending

Carolina


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Michael Leighton 19 1029 6 7 2 1 50 2.92 507 457 .901 0
2008 - Cam Ward 68 3928 39 23 5 10 160 2.44 1901 1741 .916 6

New Jersey


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Martin Brodeur 31 1814 19 9 3 2 73 2.41 870 797 .916 5

Penalties

No OtF preview would be complete without a look at Penalty Plus/Minus, to see which players will head to, or send other players to, the box:

 Carolina Penalties Drawn New Jersey Devils Penalties Drawn
Player Draws Fouls Pen +/-  Player Draws Fouls Pen +/-
Erik Cole 49 25 +24 David Clarkson 46 46 0
Eric Staal 45 24 +21 Mike Rupp 39 39 0
Tuomo Ruutu 40 37 +3 Zach Parise 32 12 +20
Tim Gleason 30 28 +2 Patric Elias 29 16 +13
Chad LaRose 26 16 +10 Jamie Langenbrunner 25 25 0
Ray Whitney 23 16 +7 Dainius Zubrus 21 27 -6
Penalties Taken Penalties Taken
Tuomo Ruutu 40 37 +3 David Clarkson 46 46 0
Joni Pitkanen 13 30 -17 Mike Rupp 39 39 0
Tim Gleason 30 28 +2 Bobby Holik 13 33 -20
Erik Cole 49 25 +24 Bryce Salvador 16 30 -14
Eric Staal 45 24 +21 Dainius Zubrus 21 27 -6
Niclas Wallin 8 21 -13 Jamie Langenbrunner 25 25 0

This area is very interesting, in that Carolina led the NHL with 374 power play opportunities over the course of the season, while New Jersey was dead last with only 307.

The Prediction

This is a tough series to call, as I'm inclined to minimize the season-long statistical advantage enjoyed by New Jersey due to the way Carolina has played of late, particularly after re-acquiring winger Erik Cole at the trade deadline. In the New Jersey net, Brodeur has had a few substandard efforts down the stretch, and may not yet be in top form due to the injury which kept him out of action for almost four months. If he struggles, how quickly will Brent Sutter yank him? Too slow, I'm guessing, and I'm calling for a Carolina Hurricanes upset here.

NHL Playoffs Blog Coverage, Schedule and Scores - SB Nation

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