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Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes – Inconsistent Rosters and Consistent Play

boston bruins and carolina hurricanes

Three games into the first-round series between the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes, neither team has iced the same lineup two games in a row. Some of that has to do with players being unfit to play, other times it is irregular circumstances, like Bruins’ starting goaltender Tuukka Rask opting out of the bubble. The main factor is that both coaches have been experimenting with their lineups. Both sides have six players who have been in and out of the lineup even though they are healthy.

The Bruins have had more success with an inconsistent roster than Carolina. They have led in shots and possession in every game, and that is why they find themselves up 2-1 in the series. They have others step up when star players aren’t unavailable. Carolina hasn’t had enough positive impact with their lineup changes to be the better team. 

Mixed Results for the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes

Pastrnak Injury

The Boston Bruins’ perfection line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak lived up to their calling card in Game 1. They scored two goals in game one, including the overtime winner with David Pastrnak scoring and getting the primary assist on the game-winner. But he appeared to have hurt himself during the overtime celebration and hasn’t been back in the series since.

David Pastrnak co-led the NHL in goals this year with 48. Usually, when a team loses its top offensive player, that is a huge problem to overcome. Not so much for the Bruins.

Pastrnak’s Czech countryman, David Krejci, has stepped up in his absence. Krejci has two goals and five points in this series. He and his wingers Jake Debrusk and Ondrej Kase have been the best line in this series. During even strength, Krejci has the lowest Corsi percentage on that line at 56.60 percent. That means the worst player on that line for that statistic has 56 percent more shot attempts than his opposition.

All advanced stats in this piece are courtesy of Natural Stat Trick. 

However, DeBrusk and Kase have been missing on excellent scoring chances, while Krejci hasn’t. He has scored two goals and five points so far in the series. Krejci also has three points on the powerplay, where he has directly taken Pastrnak’s place on the top unit. if Kase and DeBrusk can find their scoring touch, they will be a severe problem for Carolina. The Bruins don’t need the “Perfection Line” to come back if that line is going strong. Here are videos of Krejci’s two goals. 

However, Marchand and Bergeron have been excellent without Pastrnak. Marchand has four points in the two games without him. 

Carolina’s Forwards and Svechnikov’s Injury

Carolina’s forwards have not nearly played to the same level as Boston’s has so far. The Bruins defenders seem to be everywhere, and Carolina’s forwards have little space to operate.

Carolina’s head coach Rod Brind’Amour has tried numerous lineups to try to combat this. The only line that worked was the second line of Andrei Svechnikov, Vincent Trocheck and Martin Necas. The final two goals Carolina scored in Game 2 were a result of that line keeping the puck in the zone and eventually finding the open player for the goal. The other three lines haven’t been dangerous and have needed blatant mistakes by the Bruins to score during Games 2 and 3. 

The Hurricane’s inability to have 3/4 lines adjust to the Bruins defence makes Andrei Svechnikov‘s injury so problematic. Svechnikov has the best even-strength percentage among Carolina forwards in terms of how many shots he has on net versus his opposition. His presence on the second line is a big reason as to why they were able to score two goals in Game Two. At the time of writing, it is not clear how serious his injury is. But as you can see in the video below, his leg turns in an awkward angle, and he couldn’t put any weight on it, which is not promising.

Since Svechnikov is out, the two most direct players who will need to step up are Nino Niederreiter and Ryan Dzingel. Svechnikov bounced between the Aho-Teravainen line and the Trocheck-Necas line. If those two combinations stay the same, then Niederreiter and Dzingel are the most apparent replacements on those lines. Boston leads Carolina 104-79 in scoring chances, so the Hurricanes need to create more offence. 

A big part of this series is how the Boston Bruins and the Carolina Hurricanes manage the injuries to two top forwards. Boston has done it beautifully so far.


The big story in Game 3 is that Boston’s starting goalie, Tuukka Rask, opted out of the playoffs. There was a lot made on if Jaroslav Halak was ready to be the number one goaltender. Luckily for Boston, Halak was good. 

Halak showed no signs of nervousness and was bold in the game. Once he and Justin Williams raced for the puck at the same time, and Halak got to it first to knock it into the corner. He was also aggressive with his puck play and consistently passed the puck up the ice himself. That got him in trouble when he went out of his net to play the puck in the third period, but Niederreiter was able to catch it and score in the empty net. Without that blunder, Halak would have had a shutout. Boston’s goaltending is fine with Halak in the net. 

The question mark comes with what happens if Halak doesn’t play well or gets hurt. His back-up is 22-year-old Daniel Vladar, who has never played an NHL game and has only one good AHL season.

Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes Outlook

What is separating this series is puck control. The Bruins are excellent positionally and seem to be everywhere on the ice, their size and work ethic allow them to take the puck from the Hurricanes and establish their own forecheck and get shots. The Hurricanes are playing well defensively, but they are doing it too often because their offence cannot keep the puck in the Bruins zone for a significant amount of time during even strength. That is why the gameplay in this series has been consistent for the most part.

In terms of the score, the games have been close. That signals that Carolina might win one or two more games if they convert on their chances. But the Bruins winning the possession game makes them more likely to win the series. 

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images


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