Like the Red Wings out west, the Boston Bruins swept their way through the first round, and have been biding their time while the Carolina Hurricanes took 7 games (and especially the final 80 seconds) to beat the New Jersey Devils.
As with some of the other teams remaining, hot play down the stretch means that the Hurricanes are likely to be better than these numbers would portray, but there's just too large a gap to close here. Interestingly, both teams get contributions from a wide group of players; using the statistical model from my MVP article, Boston player who stood out the most, David Krejci, came in at #34 overall, while Carolina's leader, Eric Staal, showed up at #69. That means that neither team relies overly much on a handful of core players (unlike Washington, which had 4 of the top 5 spots).
|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|
|2008 - Tim Thomas||54||3259||36||11||7||4||114||2.10||1694||1580||.933||5|
Cam Ward has been playing well, but Tim Thomas is the likely Vezina Trophy winner this season.
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||Boston||Penalties Drawn|
|Player||Draws||Fouls||Pen +/-||Player||Draws||Fouls||Pen +/-|
|Erik Cole||49||25||+24||Milan Lucic||34||39||-5|
|Eric Staal||45||24||+21||Shawn Thornton||33||31||+2|
|Tuomo Ruutu||40||37||+3||Zdeno Chara||30||38||-8|
|Tim Gleason||30||28||+2||Steve Montador||29||47||-18|
|Chad LaRose||26||16||+10||Marc Savard||31||23||+8|
|Ray Whitney||23||16||+7||Mark Recchi||24||11||+13|
|Penalties Taken||Penalties Taken|
|Tuomo Ruutu||40||37||+3||Steve Montador||29||47||-18|
|Joni Pitkanen||13||30||-17||Milan Lucic||34||39||-5|
|Tim Gleason||30||28||+2||Zdeno Chara||30||38||-8|
|Erik Cole||49||25||+24||Shawn Thornton||33||31||+2|
|Eric Staal||45||24||+21||Marc Savard||31||23||+8|
|Niclas Wallin||8||21||-13||Mark Stuart||14||27||-13|
Carolina's Cole and Staal do a fine job drawing penalties, and will need to continue to do so if the Hurricanes hope to keep up with the Bruins.
The Hurricanes made a spirited run over the final weeks of the season, and fought through a classic series against the New Jersey Devils, but are facing too much of a juggernaut here. I'm taking the Boston Bruins to move on.