Not many remember who came in second the previous season. Even fewer fans remember the other two in the final four. The Carolina Hurricanes have a chance to come out of the shadows when they open the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a qualifying round matchup with the New York Rangers from Toronto with oddsmakers pegging the Canes as a -145 favorite. The Canes advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals last season getting swept by the Boston Bruins. They were an inconsistent bunch this season finishing slightly better than the Rangers, who possess some exciting offensive talent to give the Carolinians a run for their money.
We'll have NHL odds at BookMaker.eu available for every game of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Rangers Series Schedule
Game 1: Rangers vs. Hurricanes, Saturday, August 1, 2020, 12 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 2: Rangers vs. Hurricanes, Monday, August 3, 2020, 12 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 3: Hurricanes vs. Rangers, Tuesday, August 4, 2020, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 4: Hurricanes vs. Rangers, Thursday, August 6, 2020 (If Necessary)
Game 5: Rangers vs. Hurricanes, Saturday, August 8, 2020 (If Necessary)
Series Price at BookMaker.eu
New York Rangers +125
Carolina Hurricanes -145
We’ll get a good idea of how the restructured playoff format works by watching this game. The Game 1 matchup is the first to take place when play resumes on August 1. To give you an example of how close the teams are they were separated by one win and two points in the Metropolitan Division standings with the Canes having the edge in both categories. Carolina played two fewer games and also played for the Eastern Division title last year, which is why they have the betting edge.
There is no telling what’s going to happen. Two U.S.-based franchises playing in Toronto with no fans should make for an interesting challenge to players and coaches. With the Holy Grail of sports trophies at stake the games will be intense.
The Rangers made a big investment in Artemi Panarin last offseason and the move paid off. Panarin potted a career-best 41 goals to rank fifth in the NHL, and his 95 points were good for third. He did all that damage in only 69 games leading the Rangers to a 37-28-5 record. The 79 points were the most New York accumulated in three seasons and they played 12 fewer games.
Panarin got plenty of help on the offensive side especially from Mika Zibanejad, who netted 41 goals in 57 games to boost the league’s fifth-rated scoring team. The Rangers were another team on the outside of the playoff picture when the season shutdown, but they were trending in the right direction. Maintaining that after a four-month layoff, though, is not going to be easy.
There is a goalie dilemma for Rangers coach David Quinn. Henrik Lundqvist is getting long in the tooth, but his career playoff numbers are strong and he went 3-0 with a .947 save percentage against the Canes during the regular season. A case can be made for Igor Shesterkin, who went 10-2 with a .932 save percentage after joining the club in January.
Carolina might be the one team that benefits the most from the shutdown. The team was banged up back in March and clinging to a wild card spot when play was halted. Now, the team has some weapons back and could be a force in the conference.
The biggest returnee is defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who looked like a Norris Trophy candidate before a broken leg put him on the shelf in January. With Hamilton presumably out for the season the Canes bolstered their defense by acquiring Sami Vatanen and Brady Skjei. The shutdown allowed Hamilton to mend giving the Canes one of the better and more versatile group of defenders in the playoffs if he plays.
Player to Watch
Whoever starts in goal for the Canes is going to play a big role in the outcome of this series. Four different goalies made a start during the regular season and five saw game action. That had to do with regulars Petr Mrazek and James Reimer getting injured in the same game. Both are healthy ahead of the return. Mrazek made 14 more starts than Reimer during the season, but neither posted Vezina-worthy numbers or had success against the Rangers. Carolina allowed 17 goals losing all four games to their playoff opponent.
Hurricanes vs. Rangers Free Picks
Every team has question marks heading into the restart. The Canes might have more than most. The goalie situation needs to be ironed out and Hamilton had a setback in his potential return. You don’t want your top defender hobbled along with a situation in the crease against the run and gun Rangers. I’m taking the New Yorkers at plus odds to advance.
Hurricanes vs. Rangers Series Pick: Rangers in 5 Games
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