The Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers meet in the Eastern Conference Final with the winner earning a spot in the Stanley Cup Final. Both teams have had different paths to the Eastern Conference Final, with Florida having the harder path.
The Panthers took down the record-setting Boston Bruins, four games to three, and then eliminated the Toronto Maple Leafs, four games to one.
The Canes got to this point by eliminating the New York Islanders, four games to two, and then the New Jersey Devils, four games to one.
The Florida Panthers meet the Carolina Hurricanes in round three.
Head to Head
Carolina and Florida played a total of three games against each other in the regular season. The Hurricanes went 2-1 against the Panthers, outscoring them 10-7.
The power plays for both teams were up and down. Florida went 1-for-12 on the man advantage and Carolina was 3-for-12.
The Canes outshot the Panthers 110-90 in the three-game series.
Goaltenders to be a factor
Coming into this series, both teams have that one goaltender that has played exceptional hockey during the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In this series, that happens to be both starting goaltenders.
Frederik Andersen of the Canes is 5-0 with a 1.80 GAA and a .931 save percentage. Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky is 7-2 with a 2.82 GAA and a .918 save percentage.
The numbers say Andersen is the better goaltender in the playoffs, but Bobrovsky has the ability to steal a game in each round. Carolina has the stingier of the two defenses, however, Bobrovsky has been there when the team needed a stop. This should be a good goaltending match-up.
Familiar faces in the Carolina/Florida series
There are plenty of ties between the teams in this series and some may be very familiar with certain members of the organization.
For instance, current Panthers head coach Paul Maurice had a link to current Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’ Amour. When Maurice was coach of the Hurricanes, he was also the coach for then-Carolina player Brind’Amour from 1990-2000 until the 2003-2004 season.
This series also has a brother connection. Florida forward Eric Staal and defenseman Marc Staal will be on opposite teams as their brother, Carolina forward Jordan Staal. This will be the first NHL playoff series to include three brothers in the same game.
The Matthew Tkachuk factor
Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk has made a name for himself in the playoffs and in his first year in Florida. While being offensively productive, he can be a pain to play against. Surely, Carolina has taken notes and they are aware of Tkachuk and his antics when he is on the ice.
On the flip side, he could be a big factor in if Florida advances to the Stanley Cup Final or not. He has been known to not only draw penalties but also take an opposing player with him to the penalty box. Carolina can not get drawn into taking stupid or retaliatory penalties against Florida.
The special teams could be a deciding factor, so the Canes should stick to being disciplined.
Transition game good for both teams
The Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers are both known for their team speed, with Carolina having a small edge. They are both known for their transition game too, which gets them most of their scoring chances.
The team that wins this series is likely the team that shuts down the transition game of the opposing team.
The middle of the ice is going to be important as to the flow of the game. If the neutral zone is shut down then this could be a grinding, hard-hitting series that consists of most of the goal-scoring coming from in front of the net.
Projected Lineups for the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers
Stefan Noesen- Sebastian Aho-Seth Jarvis
Jordan Martinook- Jesperi Kotkaniemi- Jesper Fast
Jack Drury- Jordan Staal- Martin Necas
Mackenzie MacEachern- Paul Stastny- Derek Stepan
Jaccob Slavin- Brent Burns
Brady Skeji- Brett Pesce
Shayne Gostisbehere- Jalen Chatfield
Frederik Andersen – Antti Raanta
Scratched: Dylan Coghlan, Calvin de Haan, Jesse Puljujarvi, Pyotr Kochetkov
Injured: Andrei Svechnikov (torn ACL), Max Pacioretty (torn achilles), Teuvo Teravainen (fractured hand), Ondrej Kase (concussion)
Carter Verhaeghe- Aleksander Barkov- Anthony Duclair
Nick Cousins- Sam Bennett- Matthew Tkachuk
Eetu Loustarinen- Anton Lundell- Sam Reinhart
Colin White- Eric Staal- Zac Dalpe
Gustav Forsling- Aaron Ekblad
Marc Staal- Brandon Montour
Josh Mahura- Radko Gudas
Sergei Bobrovsky- Alex Lyon
Scratched: Givani Smith, Mike Benning, Casey Fitzgerald, Evan Fitzpatrick
Injured: Ryan Lomberg (upper-body), Patric Hornqvist (concussion)
Lineups via nhl.com
Where to watch
TNT, CBC, SN, TVAS