Now that the New York Rangers have officially clinched the Stanley Cup Playoffs, there is no need for fans to worry about the team not making the postseason. While it has looked like the Blueshirts will likely draw the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round, with end of season drama you can never be sure.
Here is a look at the playoff-bound Eastern Conference teams in light of what moves they made at the trade deadline. We’ll start with tonight’s opponent and the team that has been one of the top teams for the last two seasons, the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes have been on top of the Metropolitan Division for most of the season and most would agree that they have looked like the most complete team in the division even with their recent struggles. The Hurricanes boast an offense led by Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov that can explode at any given time, and defensively, they play an aggressive style and it is difficult for teams to enter their zone with ease. Carolina has been the premier team in the Metro.
Rangers’ head to head vs Carolina: 1-1-0.
January 21 at Carolina: 6-3 Hurricanes. The Rangers were outmatched from the start, fell behind 3-0. They went behind 5-1 and quickly made the game 5-3, but could not match Carolina’s firepower.
March 20 at Carolina. 2-0 Rangers. This was the best performance of the season by Alexandar Georgiev, who had 44 saves and a shutout on the night. New York looked up to par, but without Georgiev’s heroics this game might have gone a bit differently.
The Rangers have two more games against Carolina, which will tell a lot.
Deadline acquisitions: Max Domi, F from Columbus.
Carolina’s biggest strength: There are so many. Offensively, they lie within the top 10 in goals per game, shots per game, power play goals and power play percentage. Defensively, they are currently first in the league in goals allowed per game and have the best penalty kill at 88.21%. Additionally, Frederik Andersen is the top competitor for Igor Shesterkin for the Vezina Trophy; his numbers are almost as good.
Carolina’s biggest weakness: If you catch them at the right time, then you can beat them. There are some nights that Carolina shows up and is absolutely unbeatable, but on the other hand they can show up and look lackluster and teams take advantage of this.