In this edition of Behind Enemy Lines, we take a look at the players to watch for the Carolina Hurricanes as they prepare to face off in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Boston Bruins.
The Boston Bruins will present a different element to Carolina: The Bruins offense is filled with highly skilled players, unlike the Carolina Round Two opponent New York Islanders. However, Carolina has some of those highly skilled players as well. Not to mention, the Hurricanes are relentless on the puck, which will make life difficult for Boston.
In order for Carolina to defeat the Bruins, Carolina cannot get away from their fast and relentless style which helped them upset Washington and sweep New York. Here are players to watch for Carolina in the Eastern Conference Final:
- Justin Williams – Williams has been in this position before. He is the heart and soul of Carolina. Players respect what he has to say on and off the ice. There is a reason Williams is named Mr. Game 7 for a reason. He comes up with the clutch play when the Hurricanes need him the most.
- Teuvo Teravainen – When Teravainen came to Carolina, Chicago was just throwing him into the Bryan Bickell deal. Who knew he would turn into a stud player like this? In 11 playoff games, Teravainen has registered nine points. Playing alongside Jordan Staal and Nino Niederreiter, the Hurricanes have a solid second line.
- Jordan Staal – Speaking of Jordan Staal, he is reemerging in this playoff run. Just like brother Eric Staal before, Jordan is pushing Carolina to playoff success. He is above average in the faceoff circle at 53.5%, but especially good in the defensive zone. Staal has won 60% of his defensive zone draws. It would not be surprising if Staal takes a lot of draws against Boston center Patrice Bergeron.
- Curtis McElhinney/Petr Mrazek – The duo of Mrazek and McElhinney were surprisingly outstanding for Carolina. Ideally, a team would like one goalie in the playoffs but when two guys are playing this well, this is a good problem to have. McElhinney leads the playoffs with a 1.56 GAA and a .947 save percentage. Mrazek leads the playoffs with two shutouts. With Mrazek still out of the lineup due to a lower body injury, the former Maple Leafs goalie will look to spoil Boston’s playoff run.
- Dougie Hamilton – Hamilton and the Bruins have a history as Boston took him ninth overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Throughout his time in Boston, Hamilton never turned into the franchise defenseman the top hoped he would be. Boston shipped him to Calgary, where he signed a six-year deal. Last summer, Calgary traded Hamilton and Micheal Ferland to Carolina. Hamilton will have to continue to play a crucial role with Trevor Van Riemsdyk missing the remainder of the playoffs.
- Andrei Svechnikov – Despite missing seven games in the playoffs after being knocked out in a fight with Washington Capitals All-Star Alex Ovechkin, Svechnikov has impacted Carolina in the playoffs. Svechnikov has three points in five games and the Bruins cannot overlook Svechnikov. He was taken second overall in the 2018 NHL Draft and finished with 37 points in the regular season. Even though he played on the third line, head coach Rod Brind’Amour is not afraid to move him onto one of the top two lines when things get tight.
The Hurricanes know it will not be an easy task. The Bruins will host the first two games of the series before the series shifts to Carolina for Games 3 and 4.