Home-ice advantage can be important in the NHL playoffs. So far in the conference finals round, that has especially been the case.
The Boston Bruins took a 2-0 lead over the Carolina Hurricanes with a pair of home wins to open the Eastern Conference Final, while the San Jose Sharks will look to also go up 2-0 when they host the St. Louis Blues in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final on Monday night.
Although each of the conference finals have been one-sided to start, there's plenty of time for both series to become competitive this week.
Conference Finals Schedule
*If necessary. All times ET.
Monday, May 13
Game 2: St. Louis at San Jose, 9 p.m., NBC Sports Network
Tuesday, May 14
Game 3: Boston at Carolina, 8 p.m., NBC Sports Network
Wednesday, May 15
Game 3: San Jose at St. Louis, 8 p.m., NBC Sports Network
Thursday, May 16
Game 4: Boston at Carolina, 8 p.m., NBC Sports Network
Friday, May 17
Game 4: San Jose at St. Louis, 8 p.m., NBC Sports Network
Saturday, May 18
Game 5: Carolina at Boston, 7:15 p.m., NBC*
Sunday, May 19
Game 5: St. Louis at San Jose, 3 p.m., NBC*
Monday, May 20
Game 6: Boston at Carolina, 8 p.m., NBC Sports Network*
Tuesday, May 21
Game 6: San Jose at St. Louis, 8 p.m., NBC Sports Network*
Wednesday, May 22
Game 7: Carolina at Boston, 8 p.m., NBC Sports Network*
Thursday, May 23
Game 7: St. Louis at San Jose, 9 p.m., NBC Sports Network*
Boston over Carolina
The Bruins have quickly shown they're the better team in this series. And while the Hurricanes should still bounce back and make it a little more competitive, they're not going to take down Boston.
Over the first two games of the series, the Bruins scored 11 goals, including two in each period of Sunday's Game 2 win. It's been quite the impressive start for Boston, which was coming off a seven-game series win over the Toronto Maple Leafs and a six-game series victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
"We came out ready to go, and that's been a strength of our team throughout the playoffs," Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk said, according to NHL.com's Matt Kalman. "So going into the game, I think we were a little lackadaisical with the puck in Game 1 in the second period. They were able to capitalize on a few chances, so it's something we talked about."
Even if Game 1 wasn't their best performance, the Bruins still won 5-2 by scoring four goals in the third period.
Carolina may win a game or two at home, but Boston will defend its home ice and win this series without having to go to seven games.
St. Louis over San Jose
The Blues may have dropped Game 1, but their past road success will be the difference-maker in this series between two of the most resilient teams this postseason.
Although St. Louis goalie Jordan Binnington has a 2.58 goals-against average and .908 save percentage this postseason, he struggled in Game 1 in San Jose, allowing six goals in the loss. But his teammates and coach are confident the 25-year-old goaltender will play better moving forward.
"I think he has a calm head," Blues coach Craig Berube said, according to NHL.com's Louie Korac. "He forgets about it and moves on. He's been doing that all year. He doesn't get rattled on that. It wasn't a great game for anybody. We have to move on, learn from it and make some corrections. He will do the same thing. He just moves on."
Binnington is a strong goalie, and he'll bounce back with a big showing in Game 2, helping St. Louis even the series at 1 and improve to 6-2 on the road this postseason. That will help build momentum for the Blues, which they'll carry into St. Louis and to a series victory.