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Hurricanes-Bruins: Eastern Conference Semifinal Preview

Sterling EbyAnalyst IMay 1, 2009

NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 28: Eric Staal #12 of the Carolina Hurricanes waits for the faceoff against the New Jersey Devils during Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Semifinal Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Prudential Center on April 28, 2009 in Newark, New Jersey. The Hurricanes defetaed the Devils 4-3. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

These two teams in the Eastern Conference faced off on four separate occasions this season.

The Bruins won all four meetings by a combined score of 18-6.

But don't let those facts fool you. Since their last meeting, Carolina has been 21-8-2, and the Hurricanes have has been a refound team

Since that game, the unspoken leader of the Carolina Hurricanes has been assistant captain Eric Staal. Staal has had 21 goals and 19 assists (40 points in 30 games) since that last Boston game.

In this current playoff season, Carolina is 4-0 in games Staal scores a goal. In games he doesn't get on the scoreboard, Carolina is 0-3.

Staal has had a decent playoffs, and he isn't the whole team—but when Eric Staal gets hot, he stays hot. When he netted the series-clinching goal against New Jersey with 30 seconds left in the game, he showed the NHL Nation why he wears the "A" on his jersey.

The other unspoken leader on defense would be Cam Ward. No one has faced more shots in this playoffs then Mr. Ward, and he has simply played phenomenally. He faced over 28 shots in every single game in the playoffs, and even managed to snag a shutout against a team full of offense, All-Stars, and future Hall-of-Famers.

Now moving on to Boston. Boston is in the second round of the NHL Playoffs for the first time since 1998. With that said, they had smooth sailing in the first round, as they coasted through the Montreal Canadiens in four games.

In those four games, Montreal only shot over 30 shots in one game (31). Carolina was fifth in the NHL in the regular season in the shots taken category. If Carolina wants to win, they gotta put pucks on the net against Tim Thomas.

Boston has one of the bigger defenses in the NHL (including Zdeno Chara). Carolina needs shots from Anton Babchuk, Joe Corvo, and Tim Gleason to get on net to make Thomas make some saves.

Boston's biggest threat is thinking Carolina is easy pickings. I'm not making assumptions, but New Jersey might have been on that mental level, and now the Eastern Conference's third-seeded Devils are back home in New Jersey.

Boston needs to play their hard-hitting, high-percentage shooting style of hockey. Milan Lucic created all sorts of havoc against the Montreal Canadians, completely taking them off of their game. Expect Milan Lucic and Carolina's Tuomo Ruutu to lay some hits out in the series, however unlike the Canadians, don't expect either team to be scared.

My Pick

Anybody who has Boston sweeping the Carolina in four games is nuts. However, being a Carolina Hurricanes fan, I feel Boston has a great team. Boston showed us up at home twice this season, and kicked our butts twice more in Boston.

Any normal hockey fan would pick Boston in six games. However, as a Carolina fan, I'm making the official pick as Carolina in seven games.

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