Rangers vs. Hurricanes: 5 questions about Second Round series

PHT previews each Second Round playoff series with five questions. In this post, we explore a Metropolitan Division showdown between the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers.


Game 1 – May 18: Rangers at Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
Game 2 – May 20: Rangers at Hurricanes, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
Game 3 – May 22: Hurricanes at Rangers, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN, Sportsnet, SN360, TVA Sports)
Game 4 – May 24: Hurricanes at Rangers, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports)
*Game 5 – May 26: Rangers at Hurricanes, TBD
*Game 6 – May 28: Hurricanes at Rangers, TBD
*Game 7 – May 30: Rangers at Hurricanes, TBD

* if necessary
TBD – To Be Determined

1. Will it be Raanta or Andersen in Hurricanes’ net?

During their series against the Bruins, the Hurricanes didn’t even have the option to start Frederik Andersen. While the situation is touch-and-go, it seems like Andersen could be available for the Hurricanes at some point (possibly as early as Game 1?) against the Rangers.

That brings up the inevitable question. Should the Hurricanes go with Andersen, if available, or roll with Antti Raanta?

Frankly, there are worse problems to have.

After being a strong backup for the Rangers, Raanta ended up being an underrated piece for the Coyotes. His time in Arizona was less a “failure,” and more the combined forces of bad injury luck, and the emergence of Darcy Kuemper. When called upon, Raanta was often very good, and sometimes brilliant. According to Hockey Reference, Raanta generated a Goals Saved Above Average of 35.5 in 104 games over four seasons with the Coyotes.

You could definitely argue that Raanta probably deserved a longer look as a starter, or at least a more overt platoon situation. (The Maple Leafs may regret pursuing Petr Mrazek instead of Raanta, as one example.)

[NHL Power Rankings: Top playoff storylines for the Second Round]

Despite spending parts of nine often-productive seasons in the NHL, Raanta made his playoff debut this year, which is surprising since he just turned 33. When healthy (there’s that injury luck again), Raanta played very well for Carolina.

Of course, Frederik Andersen arguably deserved a Vezina Trophy finalist nod, as he was outstanding this season. Andersen’s also suffered through some (but clearly not all) of the Maple Leafs’ playoff nightmares.

We also don’t know if Andersen’s in “healthy enough to play” mode, or if he’s fully healthy.

Overall, the Hurricanes approach a series against the Rangers with that tough Raanta vs. Andersen question. It’s better to have too many options than too few, though. (And, hey, at least Pyotr Kochetkov gained some playoff experience, if they once again run on low on options.)

2. Will Igor Shesterkin rebound to his all-world form?

In that bizarre and busy series against the Penguins, the Rangers gained an advantage in net thanks to Igor Shesterkin. It just wasn’t as much of a series-changer as expected.

(Apologies, Louis Domingue and a possibly unhealthy Tristan Jarry, but the bar was pretty low.)

Against the Hurricanes, the most reasonable path for a Rangers upset is Igor Shesterkin regaining his superhuman form, and his team scoring just enough to steal wins.

Much like the Penguins, the Hurricanes have a history of being “goalie’d” in the playoffs. Actually, goaltending used to doom Carolina enough to derail their postseason hopes altogether.

With the Hurricanes seemingly more stable in net (injuries clearly pending), the Rangers likely need Shesterkin to be outstanding. Again, it really must be repeated: Shesterkin put together a regular season for the ages. It’s certainly possible that he heats up against the high-energy Hurricanes.

3. Is special teams even an advantage for Rangers against Hurricanes?

The elevator pitch for a Rangers’ upset of the Hurricanes is simple. It also summarizes much of the Rangers’ success in 2021-22:

“Igor Shesterkin stands on his head, and the Rangers score enough thanks to a killer power play.”

When you consider New York’s power play weapons, it’s not an outrageous thing to picture. Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin are terrifying playmakers. Adam Fox can put that Harvard brain to work. The way Chris Kreider‘s been playing, he’s the net-front answer to Alex Ovechkin. You just kind of hope he only scores a couple power-play goals, instead of a bucket of them.

(via Evolving Hockey)

The Rangers face a potential problem, though: the Hurricanes may just be better than them in every area.

In the Evolving Hockey Team RAPM chart above, you can see that the power play is one area where the Rangers were unequivocally strong this season.

[2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule, TV information]

While Shesterkin played a big role in boosting a fairly average defense, the Rangers were legit on the man advantage.

It remains to be seen if the Hurricanes’ “power kill” will negate much of that strength for the Rangers. Failing that, the Hurricanes could conceivably draw close-to-even at special teams, and dominate at 5-on-5 as expected.

By default, Evolving Hockey’s charts are set to three standard deviations. Carolina’s PK is so strong, you need to adjust beyond four. Translation: they’re extremely good shorthanded. (Via Evolving Hockey)

4. Did trade deadline close some of depth gap between Rangers, Hurricanes?

When Max Domi emerged as a Game 7 hero for Carolina, it was the latest reminder that the Hurricanes possess a deep rotation of skilled forwards.

Now, it’s not fair to say that the Rangers have all of the star power in this series. Sebastian Aho has been a point-per-game player for four seasons. Jaccob Slavin‘s closer to a “defensive star” than many realize.

But you can argue that New York has the bigger stars. Even if it’s the equivalent to one great actor making the matinee, while another star doesn’t get the same billing.

Could adding the likes of Andrew Copp and Frank Vatrano close some of that depth gap for the Rangers? It’s at least possible.

5. Who wins the series: Hurricanes or Rangers?

Hurricanes in five

So much went the Rangers’ way in their last series, yet they needed a Game 7 overtime goal to advance and face the Hurricanes. And this wasn’t a case like Calgary’s, where an incredible goaltending performance artificially prolonged a series.

If the Hurricanes aren’t better than the Penguins (I’d lean toward Carolina), they present just as many problems for the Rangers. Maybe the hard-charging Hurricanes style will be easier for a Rangers team that struggles at even-strength, but my guess is that it will end up even uglier.

Shesterkin could swing this, but I prefer Carolina’s chances.

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    Blue Jackets’ Patrik Laine out 2-4 weeks with triceps injury

    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine is out 2-4 weeks after straining a triceps muscle in practice, yet another blow to the last-place team in the NHL that has been hampered by injuries all season.

    The Blue Jackets announced Laine’s absence before their home game against the New York Islanders.

    They already have 454 man-games lost to injury, one of the highest numbers in the league, and have a record of 22-41-7.

    Laine missed two separate stints with elbow and ankle injuries in the fall. The 24-year-old Finn is the team’s second-leading scorer with 52 points in 55 games.

    Columbus has been top defenseman Zach Werenski since November because of a torn labrum and separated shoulder. Forward Sean Kuraly recently went on injured reserve with a strained left oblique muscle but is set to return Friday.

    Tortorella earns 700th career win, Flyers top Wild 5-4

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    PHILADELPHIA — John Tortorella needed one word to sum up if 700 career wins meant anything to the Flyers coach.


    OK, then. Good thing the brusque Stanley Cup winner isn’t paid by the word.

    James van Riemsdyk scored the only goal in a shootout, and Philadelphia beat the Minnesota Wild 5-4 on Thursday night for Tortorella’s 700th victory.

    Tortorella is 700-573-181 in 1,454 games as an NHL head coach. His 700 wins rank 12th in NHL history and his career games rank ninth in NHL history. He led Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup in 2004. In his first season coaching the Flyers, Tortorella joined Peter Laviolette as the second American-born coach to win 700 games.

    “I think the culture’s kind of changed around here,” Flyers forward Joel Farabee said. “I think he’s done a really good job of keeping the group together.”

    Farabee, Scott Laughton, Rasmus Ristolainen and Tyson Foerster scored for Philadelphia. The Flyers have two straight games for the first time since Jan. 9-14 when they won three straight. Yeah, it’s been that kind of season.

    “Farabee’s starting to pop, he’s looking real good. Tyson is looking real good,” Flyers defenseman Tony DeAngelo said. “This is all about laying the foundation for next year but we get a lot of money to do this job. It’s something we love, so we’re gonna go out and give it our best every night.”

    Matt Boldy had two goals for the Wild, and Oskar Sundqvist and Marcus Foligno also scored.

    “We weren’t very good. They were good,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “We knew they were playing well, they played well tonight. We were loose. We were not firm, turnovers, it didn’t look like our hockey club.”

    The Flyers and Wild were tied 1-all at the end of the first period, 3-3 at the end of the second and 4-4 headed into OT.

    The rebuilding Flyers have been plucky of late. They had won two of three coming into the game, with the lone loss in overtime. They showed some of that grit in the final two periods, scoring late tying goals.

    “It’s a credit to their group, to their coaching staff, that they’ve got them playing the right way,” Evason said.

    Boldy poked a backhander past Carter Hart with 6:28 left for a 4-3 lead. The Flyers, playing more for the No. 1 pick and for pride, tied the game on Foerster’s second goal of the season.

    Farabee tipped in Cam York’s shot early in the second for a 2-1 lead.

    The Wild got going when Boldy ripped one top shelf past Hart for his 24th goal of the season that tied the game 2-all. Foligno scored his seventh goal for the 3-2 lead.

    Ristolainen buried a hard slapper from the blue line on the power play for the tying goal with 23 seconds left in the second.

    “I think it’s good to try to lay this foundation, kind of get ready for next year. You see guys getting confidence,” DeAngelo said.

    The Flyers only played ahead in the first period.

    Laughton scored off the rush for his 17th goal of the season and a 1-0 lead. Sundqvist celebrated his birthday with a deflection for the tying goal with 3:24 left in the period.

    The Flyers had been one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL until the start of this seven-game homestand (3-2 so far). They have scored at least three goals in every game and at least four in the last four.

    “We have definitely gotten to the net better,” Tortorella said. “We have spent a lot of time on the ice and with tape as far as getting to that area.”


    Wild: Host Chicago on Saturday.

    Flyers: Host Detroit on Saturday.

    Crosby reaches 30-goal mark, Penguins knock off Avalanche 5-2

    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    DENVER – Sidney Crosby wasn’t even aware of reaching yet another milestone. He’s simply locked in on helping the Pittsburgh Penguins make a 17th straight postseason appearance.

    Jeff Carter had a pair of goals, Crosby scored on a nifty backhand shot in the second period to reach the 30-goal mark for an 11th season and the Penguins beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.

    Crosby moved into a tie with Hall-of-Fame center Mario Lemieux for the most 30-goal seasons in Penguins history. Another milestone reached – it came as news to him.

    “I think the most important thing for me is just try to be consistent and if that reflects that great,” said Crosby, who turns 36 in August.

    Even more, Crosby’s the first player in league history to post a 30-goal campaign at 18 years old and again when he was 35-plus, according to NHL Stats.

    “It means I’ve been in the league for a while,” Crosby cracked. “That’s been the thing that’s driven me since since I got into the league – in your first year, you want to prove that you belong. Even at 35, I still think you want to prove you belong, because it is a younger league.”

    Jake Guentzel also scored and Bryan Rust added an empty-net goal for the Penguins, who snapped a four-game slide and moved back into a wild-card spot in the East.

    “It’s definitely a big one for us, for sure,” Guentzel said. “Defending champs, coming to their building, you know how good they are. Top to bottom, we defended hard and that’s what we have to do at this time of the year.”

    Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry stopped 28 shots in improving to 11-4 this season against teams from the Western Conference.

    J.T. Compher and Devon Toews had goals for the Avalanche, whose six-game winning streak was halted. Nathan MacKinnon had an assist to extend his home points streak to 18 games.

    It was a missed opportunity for Colorado, which could’ve pulled into a three-way tie with Dallas and Minnesota in the Central Division with a victory.

    “We knew they were going to play with urgency,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “But I didn’t feel like there was any reason why we couldn’t, either. … We didn’t get it done. Hopefully we get another one.”

    Alexandar Georgiev made 40 saves, including several critical ones in a second period controlled by the Penguins, who outshot the Avalanche by a 21-9 margin. It could’ve been more than a 3-1 deficit heading into the third period.

    Toews’ power-play goal made it 3-2 with 9:32 remaining. But Carter wrapped up the win with his first multigoal game in the regular season since Jan. 11, 2022.

    “I’m thrilled for him. We’re all thrilled,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of Carter. “He cares about the Penguins. He wants to win, and he wants to contribute in helping us win so we couldn’t be happier for him.”


    Bednar was appreciative of the three-year extension he signed Tuesday that goes through the 2026-27 season. In his seventh season, he’s the third-longest tenured coach in the NHL behind Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper (March 2013) and Sullivan (December 2015).

    “It’s not a forgiving league or sport, for the most part, but obviously that’s part of the reason why I’m so grateful and thankful,” Bednar said. “Because there were times over my tenure that got a little hairy and management could have made another decision. But obviously they didn’t.”


    Avalanche D Cale Makar missed a second straight game with a lower body injury. “I still have him as day-to-day,” Bednar said. … F Darren Helm returned after missing 64 of 69 games this season with a lower-body injury. … Penguins D Jeff Petry (upper body) skated in the morning but sat out his third straight game. … The Penguins are 11-1 against the Central Division this season. … Penguins standout Evgeni Malkin assisted on Guentzel’s goal to reach the 50-assist mark for a seventh time in his career.


    Penguins: At Dallas on Thursday night.

    Avalanche: Host Arizona on Friday night.

    Report: Blackhawks will not wear Pride-themed jerseys

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    CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks will not wear Pride-themed warmup jerseys before Sunday’s Pride Night game against Vancouver because of security concerns involving a Russian law that expands restrictions on activities seen as promoting LGBTQ rights in the country.

    The decision was made by the NHL organization following discussions with security officials within and outside the franchise, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke to the AP on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the move.

    The Blackhawks have worn Pride warmup jerseys previously and donned special warmup jerseys on some other themed nights this season. There had been ongoing conversations about a Pride jersey with the players, according to the person who talked to the AP, but the organization made the decision to hold Pride Night without the jerseys this year.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law in December that significantly expands restrictions on activities seen as promoting LGBTQ rights in the country. Chicago defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is a Moscow native, and there are other players with family in Russia or other connections to the country.

    The decision by the Blackhawks comes after San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov refused to take part in warmups with Pride-themed jerseys. The New York Rangers opted not to wear Pride jerseys or use Pride stick tape as part of their night in January despite previously advertising that plan.

    Russians Nikolai Knyzhov and Alexander Barabanov wore the Pride-themed jerseys for the Sharks on Saturday.

    While Chicago will go without Pride warmup jerseys this year, the team has planned a variety of activities in conjunction with Sunday’s game. DJs from the LGBTQ community will play before the game and during an intermission, and the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus also is slated to perform. There also are plans to highlight a couple of area businesses with ties to the LGBTQ community.