Boston Bruins vs Carolina Hurricanes: Round 1, Free Picks, Odds & Predictions

Boston Bruins vs Carolina Hurricanes NHL Playoffs Round 1
Boston Bruins vs Carolina Hurricanes

Once again, the Boston Bruins’ best players stepped up in crunch time to lift the Bruins to a win over the Carolina Hurricanes. David Krejci was in the right place at the right time to bang home a loose puck created by traffic in front of Petr Mrazek on the power play and tie the game. Then with the seconds ticking away in the second period, Patrice Bergeron caught Mrazek standing from a near-impossible angle and banked home the series-winning goal. An excellent defensive structure that blocked 17 shots and lifted sticks out of dangerous areas and 23 saves from Jaroslav Halak then sealed the deal for Boston.

Boston Bruins win 4-1

The Boston Bruins dealt with every shred of adversity that was thrown at it in the first round of the playoffs, and responded like the veteran team that they are. The Bruins surrendered the first goal of the game to the Carolina Hurricanes three times in the series and won all three of those games. They overcame losing their leading scorer for three games, and have won all three games since their starting goalie opted out of the bubble for personal reasons. Boston scored four goals in a little over six minutes to win Game 4 and then scored twice on the power play in the final five minutes of the second period to win Game 5. It was a true team effort for the Bruins to advance to the conference semifinals for the third straight season and fifth time in the last eight years.

Game 1

August 11th, 8 p.m., Scotiabank Arena

There wasn’t much that went right for the Boston Bruins in the round robin as the best team in the league during the regular season was outplayed for the first game and a half. The Bruins started to find their game midway through the second period against Tampa Bay, but still couldn’t jumpstart the offense. They now have just two days to bounce back for the NHL playoffs and a matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes, who were impressive in the qualifying round.

Carolina made it look easy against the New York Rangers in sweeping the best-of-five opening-round series. The defense limited the Rangers to just four goals all while peppering the New York net with 102 shots and scoring 11 goals. It was especially productive for Sebastian Aho, who scored three times and added five assists, and Andrei Svechnikov, who had three goals and two assists in the three-game sweep.

The Hurricanes lost the only regular-season matchup of the season with Boston, falling 2-0 in December, and even with the offense not playing well, the Bruins are still a much better opponent than the Rangers. Boston has won 10 of the last 11 contests with Carolina – including all four in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals – and started to show a glimmer of hope in Sunday’s loss to Washington. If nothing else, Petr Mrazek will be forced to face a lot more shots and quality chances from the Bruins than he faced in two games against the Rangers.

The NHL betting sites in New Jersey has installed Boston as the favorite in this series at -137 odds, which is a bit surprising considering the form both teams are in. Yet this series has all the trappings of a seven-game series – which you can bet on at +205 – and as the series goes along, the Bruins should be able to start returning back to the form that earned them the President’s Trophy. It might not be enough to make them Stanley Cup contenders at the moment, but the Bruins’ skill and grit should push them over the edge in a tough series with the Hurricanes.

That being said, Carolina should be favored to win the opening game in this series because Boston is having trouble scoring at the moment. The Hurricanes’ speed and skill on offense could give the Bruins fits, and it’ll only take one or two goals to put the pressure on the Bruins. It won’t be a pretty game, but still take Carolina at +115 odds to open the series with a victory.

BET ON CAROLINA HURRICANES TO WIN

Game 2 (Bruins leads 1-0)

August 13th, 8:00 p.m., Scotiabank Arena

For the first time since the NHL restarted its season, the Boston Bruins looked like the team that won the President’s Trophy as the best team in the regular season. They rolled four lines that never relented and their top line finally started to click by connecting for the first and last goals of the game. Boston dominated most of the overtime periods against the Carolina Hurricanes, creating chance after chance for their skill guys until Patrice Bergeron finally ended the game early in the second overtime.

The Hurricanes were ready for the Bruins, though, and boosted their physicality in response to what they expected from Boston. Carolina scored the opening goal then came back from one-goal deficits twice, proving the Hurricanes weren’t afraid of what Boston was going to bring. Ultimately, Carolina failed to sustain much offense in the game, but it took advantage of most of the chances it did create to keep the game close.

As much as the Bruins seemed to have found their game Wednesday, their legs might feel the after-effects of their victory Thursday. Carolina is a young team that will be able to recover quickly from playing 80-plus minutes, but Boston is a bit older and might look a step slower after a big win. The Hurricanes will respond to knot the series and continue the back-and-forth nature of this series.

BET ON CAROLINA HURRICANES TO WIN

Game 3 (Series tied 1-1)

August 15th, 12:00 p.m., Scotiabank Arena

It wasn’t an ideal performance at all, but the Carolina Hurricanes did enough Thursday to even their NHL playoffs series with the Boston Bruins. There were many stats that went in Boston’s favor, including shots, hits and faceoff wins, but Carolina blocked more shots, took care of the puck when it possessed it and scored one more goal, which is all that really matters anyway.

The Hurricanes did a good job at sweeping pucks away from the crease in front of James Reimer, but if they couldn’t get the puck, they did an excellent job at lifting sticks and bodying Bruins away from getting onto the loose pucks themselves. Carolina also did a good job on the forecheck to force Boston into 17 giveaways, and the Hurricanes were able to capitalize on them to score key goals against the run of play.

Boston needs to be better in its own defensive zone, especially when it comes to clearing the puck and exiting the zone. All three Carolina goals Thursday were the result of Boston either turning over the puck in its own zone or failing to clear the puck from the zone effectively. Even though the Bruins looked the more dangerous team most of the night, it was Carolina’s ability to clear the zone and not have bad turnovers that won it the game.

The big question mark for Boston entering Game 3 is the health of David Pastrnak, who missed Thursday’s loss with what looked like an abdominal injury. He’ll be a game-time decision Saturday, but his status doesn’t change my pick at all. Even without their leading scorer, the Bruins had more chances around goal than Carolina did, but couldn’t convert on them. These two teams have almost identical odds at the NHL betting sites in New Jersey, but I think Boston will make marked improvement defensively and bury a few more of those chances around the net to earn my bet at -113 odds to win Game 3.

BET ON BOSTON BRUINS TO WIN

 

Game 4

August 17th, 8:00 p.m, Scotiabank Arena

If Saturday in this series taught us anything, it’s that the NHL playoffs can be a fickle beast. About two hours before the puck dropped for Game 3, the Boston Bruins announced starting goalie Tuukka Rask decided to opt out of the rest of the season. In the third period, the Carolina Hurricanes lost one of their best scorers, Andrei Svechnikov, to an injury we can only hope looks worse than it actually is. The Bruins walked out of the game with a lead in the series, but it was a lesson in how quickly a series can turn.

One of the big reasons behind Boston’s success Saturday was how well it played the puck out of its defensive zone. The Bruins avoided the major gaffes and giveaways that cost them in Game 2 – for the most part – and made simpler plays in the defensive zone. Yes, there was Jaroslav Halak’s ill-advised clearance that gifted Carolina a power-play goal, but otherwise the goalie was solid and his teammates battled well in front of him. Boston also missed several great scoring chances, but it again looked dangerous with the puck and kept the pressure on Carolina’s goal.

The Hurricanes lost a lot of net-front battles in Game 3, which prevented them from scooping up some of the loose rebounds that bounced off of Halak. But the bigger issue was Carolina’s reliance on longer shots to try to generate some offense around the goal. The Hurricanes’ defensemen had 18 of the team’s 30 shots, which is too high of a percentage to beat the Bruins consistently. Long shots through traffic are certainly an effective strategy to score goals, but it limits the Hurricanes’ ability to use their speed and skill, the big two advantages they have over Boston. It results in quiet nights for Sebastian Aho and Svechnikov, who combined for just three shots in the loss.

It’s a real shame that Svechnikov was injured because that dramatically alters the path of this series. Assuming he won’t be able to play Monday, the Hurricanes’ lack of scoring depth at forward creates a mismatch that Boston will be able to exploit. The Bruins are imperfect as well with a backup goalie who gifted Carolina its only goal Saturday, but the Bruins come at you in waves when they are at the top of their game. It’ll be another tight-checking affair, but the Bruins will get it done in regulation at +150 odds from the NHL betting sites in New Jersey.

BET ON BOSTON BRUINS TO WIN

 

Game 5 (Boston Bruins lead 3-1)

August 19th, 4 p.m., Scotiabank Arena

It all started with Jake DeBrusk winning a race with James Reimer for the puck. Minutes later, Charlie McAvoy laid a big hit on Jordan Staal. Those two events sparked the Boston Bruins to score four goals in a little more than six minutes, turning a two-goal deficit into a two-goal lead in the third period. The Carolina Hurricanes were held without a shot for almost the entire third period as they could only chase the game as the Bruins relentlessly attacked. Now Boston is one win away from advancing to the conference semifinals again.

Even before dominating the third period, Boston had several great chances but couldn’t get its hands in the right spots. The Bruins have been missing high and wide a lot in this series, but they have also found ways to grind out goals when they need to do so. The third period was prototypical Bruins hockey, though, with a crushing forecheck, excellent defensive structure and secondary scoring sparking the comeback.

The biggest question for Carolina is how will it respond to the utter catastrophe that was the third period. The Hurricanes didn’t record their first shot on goal in the period until 1:27 remained on the clock, and that shot still needed to deflect off a defender’s skate to go in. The first two periods were much better for Carolina, and something that should give them hope and optimism at the very least.

As much as I believe the Hurricanes will bounce back emotionally from Monday’s loss, I think the Bruins will respond equally as positively to the victory. Boston is a team that rarely relinquishes momentum once it seizes it, so the Bruins will also play with an edge Wednesday in Game 5. It’ll once again be a tough slog for both sides for 60 minutes, but Boston proved it has the mental fortitude to win those types of games. I’ll agree with the NHL betting sites in New Jersey and take the Bruins at -152 odds to beat the Hurricanes.

BET ON BOSTON BRUINS TO WIN

 

NJ Legal Betting Sites

Betting Site
Bonus
Brand Features
Review
Bet Now
888Sport
$500 Free Bet
$500 Free Bet
Read Review
Sugar House Sportsbook
100% Up to $250
100% Up to $250
Read Review
FanDuel
Get A Risk Free Bet up to $500
Get A Risk Free Bet up to $500
Read Review
Borgata Sports
Risk Free First Bet up to $250
Risk Free First Bet up to $250
Read Review
BetMGM Sports
Deposit Match Up To $500
Deposit Match Up To $500
Read Review
Caesars Sportsbook
First Deposit Bonus up to $300
First Deposit Bonus up to $300
Read Review

Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper

All Reviews by Josh Walfish

BACK TO TOP