Rangers Get Ready for High Intensity 2nd Round Carolina Clash

In what will arguably be one of the most hotly contested playoff matchups this season, the Rangers open as slight underdogs against a considerably played Hurricanes team
New York Rangers v Carolina Hurricanes
New York Rangers v Carolina Hurricanes / Jaylynn Nash/GettyImages

Not all 2nd round matchups in this year's Stanley Cup playoffs have been set yet, but there is at least one that will turn many heads once it finally gets underway. A straight up duel between the top two teams in the Eastern Conference, the New York Rangers face the Carolina Hurricanes in what may be the single opponent stopping the Blueshirts from a potential Stanley Cup championship.

With the Rangers leading the season series 2 games to 1, the most recent a defensive 1-0 win on March 12, one could make comparisons to their 1st round matchup against the Capitals, who they went 2-2 against. This is not Washington, however. Carolina is a perennial contender and has been one ever since head coach Rod Brind'Amour took over in the 2018/19 season. It's the 3rd time the Canes and Rangers meet in the postseason, the others being a 2020 3 game sweep in the NHL's COVID bubble in Toronto and a 2022 7-game endurance run, which the Rangers eventually came out of as the victors.

The first two games of the series will be played at Madison Square Garden since the Rangers possess the President's Trophy, and that could give them a huge advantage in a series that could very well go the 7 games like in 2022. 2 of the 3 season series games between these teams were played at MSG, with the Rangers winning the first, 2-1 on November 12 and then getting walloped 6-1 on January 2.

One thing to watch out for in this series is each team's power play and penalty kill prowess. The Rangers are 3rd in the league on the man advantage and the PK, while Carolina has the best penalty kill in the league and is right behind the Rangers for best power play. However, the advantage to New York here, sinc they had a power play percentage of 88.2% compared to Carolina's 72.7%. That's a significant difference for man-advantage efficiency, and like the home-ice advantage the Rangers will have in the first 2 games, it could be an additional deciding factor in who moves on to the Eastern Conference finals.


There are also some interesting connections in this series, ones both on and off the ice as well. Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette was on the Canes' 2006 championship roster and was teammates with none other than current Carolina bench boss Rod Brind'Amour. Rangers GM Chris Drury is also the uncle of young Carolina star Jack Drury, who's picked up 1 goal and 2 assists in the Canes' 1st round matchup with the New York Islanders so far. Finally, there are 3 former Hurricanes now with important spots on the Rangers roster, the likes of the Steven McDonald Extra Effort award winner, Vincent Trocheck, as well as Tony DeAngelo, and former Rangers 1st round pick Brady Skjei.

Best prediction for this one? It goes the distance again. Remember, the last matchup lasted that long, and 2021/22 wasn't too long ago for both these teams. They most likely have most of the same lineups they did then, with some minor changes since then. But in any case, and in the words of Terrell Owens, get your popcorn ready. This is gonna be good.