Carolina Hurricanes versus New York Rangers series preview

Artemi Panarin #10 of the New York Rangers (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Artemi Panarin #10 of the New York Rangers (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers are going to square off in what should be an entertaining series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The sixth seed Carolina Hurricanes will play the 11th seed New York Rangers in the qualifying round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This will be the first playoff series of any kind between these two teams, even dating back all the way to the Hartford Whaler days for the Hurricanes franchise.

This series pits two Metropolitan Division opponents against each other in the only matchup in the qualifying round that has two teams from the same division going head to head. It features familiar foes with different playing styles.

The Hurricanes rely on entire team defense and an overload, crash the net style of offense to succeed. The Rangers rely on speed and a quick-strike offense that pushes the tempo and a team that needs their goaltender to stop a higher than average amount of shots on goal per game to succeed. New York won all four games of the 2019-20 season series against the Hurricanes by a combined score of 17-9.

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Carolina comes into this series with a 38-30-5 regular season record, good for 81 points and 4th place in the Metropolitan Division. After missing the playoffs in the previous nine seasons, they are in the playoffs for the second straight season.

The Hurricanes won six of their first seven games to start the season and they were a streaky bunch for basically the whole season. They won two or more games in a row 11 times, including seven streaks of three or more wins in a row. Also, they lost two or more games in a row seven times, including five streaks of three or more losses in a row.

Meanwhile, the Rangers come into this series with a 37-33-5 record, good for 79 points and 7th place in the Metropolitan Division. They’re one of the playoff bubble teams that benefited from the expanded qualifying round immediately but arguably could have made it in the round of 16, as they were two points out of the playoffs with 12-14 games left to play at the time of the stoppage.

This will be their first playoff action after missing the playoffs the previous two seasons. The Rangers had a rough start to the season, losing six of their first nine games and playing marginally until around the turn of the calendar year. The team took off with the emergence of Igor Shesterkin on January 7th. From that date, they won 18 of 29 games, including winning streaks of five wins and four wins in a row to turn what looked to be a sure-fire lottery team into the thick of the playoff hunt at the time of the stoppage.

Both teams benefit tremendously health-wise with the pandemic stoppage as it pertains to their team strengths respectively. Carolina will hopefully star defenseman Dougie Hamilton back from a broken fibula suffered right before the All-Star Game. Hamilton was picked to play in the All-Star Game after a stellar first half of the season.

The Hurricanes also get back defenseman Sami Vatanen. Vatanen was acquired while nursing a lower-body from the New Jersey Devils at the trade deadline. Meanwhile, the Rangers get back speedy All-Star forward Chris Kreider from a broken ankle sustained at the end of February. Hamilton and Kreider would have most likely been done for the year if the pandemic stoppage did not take place.


The Rangers were 5th overall in goals scored this season. Led by Hart Trophy finalist Artemi Panarin and center Mika Zibanejad, who combined for 73 goals and 170 points, the Rangers can score heavy and in bunches. Their top 2 forward lines can push the tempo and are built on speed and quick passes for quick-strike transitions up the ice.

The Hurricanes are lead by forwards Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teraveinen, and a breakout season from Andrei Svechnikov. Carolina relies more on possession control and zone containment, as the forwards have a defense-first approach at all times. Carolina ranked 15th overall in goals with balanced scoring from all forward lines.

Advantage: Rangers


The Hurricanes are loaded on the defensive end with Hamilton and All-Star Jaccob Slavin leading the way. Carolina loaded up an already strong unit with the acquisition of defensive defenseman Vatanen and former Ranger Brady Skjei at the trade deadline. The unit gave up the second-fewest shots against in the entire league.

The Rangers had defensemen Tony DeAngelo and Adam Fox finish in the top 15 scoring defensemen in the entire NHL. That is the good part. The team has given up the third-highest total of shots against as a unit.

They rely heavily on assisting the offense but the goaltender needs to make saves on a heavier than average amount of shots a game to win. A few bad bounces or deflections can open up a game very quickly.

Advantage: Hurricanes


The Rangers have a three-headed monster with future Hall of Famer Henrik Lundqvist, Alexandar Georgiev, and Igor Shesterkin. Lundqvist has struggled this season overall and head coach David Quinn has juggled the three goaltenders as best he can.

Shesterkin forced his way on the main club with lights out numbers in the AHL and the Rangers really took off when he took the starting job. No telling what direction they will go in for the playoffs but have to assume they stay with Shesterkin.

Petr Mrazek is the incumbent starter for a Hurricanes team that had five different goaltenders suit up this season.

Advantage: Rangers

Special Teams

The Rangers and Hurricanes finished seventh and eighth overall in power play percentage, respectively. Carolina finished with the fourth-best PK in the entire league while the Rangers PK unit finished 23rd.

Advantage: Hurricanes 

Prediction: Rangers win the series 3-2

In what will be a tight matchup as both opponents try to impose their style of play into the game. The Rangers rank 2nd in the league scoring in the first period while giving up the 4th most in the first. The Rangers also rank 2nd in third-period scoring while the Hurricanes have given up the third-fewest amount of third-period goals.

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Both teams are resilient to come back from deficits. The Ranger’s team speed and goaltending will ultimately be too much to overcome. This series won’t be as easy as the regular season series seems to have been, but it’s a tough matchup for this Hurricanes team to overcome.