The first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs offered hockey fans five Game 7s – an exciting conclusion to the initial series of games. Of the four sets in the second round, there will be only a match 7, and we’re here to make sure you’re ready for it.
Carolina Hurricanes host New York Rangers (8 p.m. ET Monday, ESPN), and the home team has won every game in this series. (In fact, the home team has won every game the Hurricanes have played this postseason, setting an NHL record.)
Will the trend continue? Or will the Rangers steal one from Raleigh? The winner will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals. Here’s what you need to know:
8 p.m. ET (ESPN) | Watch live on ESPN
Line: CAR-150 | More less : 5.5
Rangers: C Mika Zibanejad (7 G | 9 A); D Adam Fox (4G | 12A)
Hurricanes: LW Teuvo Teravainen (4G | 7A)
Path to victory for Rangers
The games in Raleigh haven’t really been blowouts. Heck, the Rangers had the opener on their hands, before the Hurricanes found their game in the third period, tied the score with less than three minutes left and won it in overtime. Game 2 was unbalanced in game flow, but essentially a one-rebound game on the scoreboard. Ditto for game 5, because Carolina was only one goal ahead in the third period.
Rangers need to create more quality 5-on-5 chances against this defence; Carolina had the advantage of high-risk scoring chances in all three home games. Do that and get a rebound or two and they can win Game 7. Especially if Igor Shesterkin quietly continues his great efforts on the road in this series: .955 save percentage, 1.16 goals against average, 3.26 goals saved above replacement. And if he wants to add two more assists to the Rangers offense, great. — Wyshynsky
Hurricanes’ path to victory
If the previous 13 games are any indication, the path to victory is through Raleigh. While now 0-6 on the road, the Hurricanes are 7-0 at home with a plus-17 goal differential, 3.57 goals per game and a goals-against average of 1.14. It’s just a different team at home, in all facets of the game.
The penalty kill that couldn’t stop the Rangers at Madison Square Garden has an 89.5% efficiency in Raleigh. The power play that couldn’t get a critical goal in Game 6 has a conversion rate of 4.2% on the road and a conversion rate of 19.2% at home. The Hurricanes control the game during home periods; having better defensive support in front of their goalkeeper, who has been noticeably stronger at home; and display a physique they lack on the road — all in front of rowdy fans who know they’re part of that home advantage.
“We hope that’s a factor. Obviously, it’s been good for us. So we’re still counting on that, for sure,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. — Wyshynsky
Shilton’s X factor: Rangers’ ‘Kid Line’ was reunited with great success at home in Game 6. If Rangers are to advance, they will need to be a dominant force again in Game 7. New York scored two goals in total in three away matches. during this series. Filip Chytil scored a pair in the Game 6 win as he was reunited on a line with Alexis Lafrenière and Kaapo Kakko after not lighting the lamp since Game 1. It’s a real boost for the Rangers’ confidence at a critical playoff moment to see that line vibrate again.
Given the rollercoaster ride these three players have been on in this series – along with the rest of the New York offense – stringing together two strong performances that could potentially play a pivotal role in taking Rangers to the 2020 Conference Finals. Is would be huge.
Wyshynski’s X factor: Carolina special teams.
The key to the Hurricanes’ penalty kill is not having to use it. Carolina won the first two games in Raleigh, with Rangers going 0 for 5 with the man advantage. Since then, the Rangers are 5-for-16, scoring at least one power-play goal in every game since Game 2. Even though they converted a shorthanded goal in Game 5, the Hurricanes absolutely need to stay disciplined.
If the Rangers take a penalty, Carolina’s power play becomes the ultimate X-factor. The Rangers have eliminated 13 of 14 power plays in this series. The one they didn’t score was a critical goal in Game 5, giving Carolina a second-period lead. Getting anything from the power play in Game 7 could be a tipping point for the Canes.
Final score predictions:
Shilton: Rangers, 3-2
Wyshinsky: Hurricanes, 2-1