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Carolina Hurricanes vs New York Islanders First Round Series Preview

hurricanes vs islanders

The 2023-24 NHL regular season has come to a close and everyone is excited to get rolling into the playoffs. The first game of the 2023-24 Stanley Cup Playoffs takes off in Raleigh, North Carolina as its the Carolina Hurricanes vs the New York Islanders in a rematch from last year. That series saw the Hurricanes walk away with a 4-2 series win. But it’s a new year and nothing is guaranteed for either team.

The Islanders rolled into the playoffs following a late season run at the hands of their still newish Head Coach Patrick Roy. While not the flashiest team, the Islanders have some top level talent in Bo Horvat and Mathew Barzal, strength on the back end in Noah Dobson, and reliable goaltending in Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov. Brock Nelson is an underrated goal-scorer in the league as well.

Carolina largely performed as most expected this year at the end of the day. While their season started a little rocky, their second half saw them play at a very high level. This play was even stronger after the NHL trade deadline when newcomers Jake Guentzel and Evgeny Kuznetsov and a returning Frederik Andersen seemed to give the team a serious spark. With the neverending Sebastian Aho vs Sebastian Aho joke back in the fold, this could be another good battle.

Carolina Hurricanes vs New York Islanders Odds and Promos

The Hurricanes and Islanders will faceoff on Saturday April 20, 2024 at 5 PM EDT from PNC Arena. The rest of the schedule for this series is as follows:


The Hurricanes hold the favour in this one as FanDuel gives them the moneyline odds at -375. In fact, Carolina holds the odds as the Stanley Cup favourite as well at +650.  The Islanders come in at +270 in the moneyline as well. While Carolina holds the favour in this matchup, there are a lot of factors to consider that can affect the outcome.

Hurricanes vs Islanders 2023-24 History

The Hurricanes and Islanders met four times this season. Every game was a one-goal finish except the last one which saw Carolina come away with a 4-1 victory. Each of the victories went to the road team. All of these two teams’ matchups came in 2023 except the last one. This is somewhat notable given how Carolina really turned it on in the second half of the season and especially after the trade deadline. But the Islanders also had a late season run going 8-0-1 in April to go from outside the playoff picture to third in the Metro Division.

Two of the four games finished in overtime. Not only were the results fairly even, but the goal scoring ended at 16-14 for Carolina. Shot totals were a little more lopsided in Carolina’s favour as they led 164 to 100 while also holding a CF% of 66.47 and a FF% 64.34. While the playoffs are a new “season” and anything can happen, even though the odds favour Carolina, the regular season seems to paint a much more even picture in this one.

Hurricanes and Islanders Keys to the Series

Hurricanes Keys to Victory

The Hurricanes roll into this one with high expectations. And rightfully so. They have consistently made the playoffs the last few years but haven’t been able to make it past the Conference Finals yet. One reason seen last year against the Florida Panthers was that their scoring went a little cold. To address that this year they added a big name at the trade deadline in Jake Guentzel. But hockey isn’t won on paper so there are a few keys to Carolina pulling out the victory here.

Play Their Game

The simplest key to victory for Carolina is to stick to what has worked for them so far. This includes an all-hands-on-deck team game marked by heavy pressure on the puck, active man-to-man coverage on defence, and high volume shooting. When they combine this approach with being opportunistic in their chances, they can be a hard team to beat. But they must have all-hands-on-deck with no passengers for 60 minutes. Now you mix in what could be the X-factor of Carolina’s top line of Guentzel, Aho, and Seth Jarvis with their consistent depth scoring, and this could tip the scales in this series.

Special Teams

One metric that Carolina has drastically improved in this year is special teams. They have had a strong penalty kill of the last few years, but their power play has been more middle of the road. However this year, they excelled in both departments. They finished the regular season leading the league on the kill at 86.4% while they were second in the league with the man advantage at 26.9%. They were the only team to be top two in both categories. Meanwhile, the Islanders sit middle of the road on the power play but finished dead last in the league on the kill in the NHL at 71.5%.

While it is very true that a team should not rely on their power play to win a playoff series due to the style of the game and lack of calls, this is one of those “opportunities” to take advantage of. Hockey is a game of inches and more so in the playoffs. You get a man advantage and score, and maybe that’s enough to leave the game happy. You fail to get a big kill, and you might be packing your bags. With Carolina’s strong 5v5 play, special teams might be the moment to swing a game or two.

Islanders Keys to Victory

Withstand the Attack and Counter

Everyone knows that Carolina likes to put heavy pressure on the puck on the forecheck and fire pucks on net. They also favour an engaged defence that is not afraid to pinch to create offence. Typically, the team is in sync and the forwards cover the engaging defenceman. But if there is a crack in Carolina’s system it is this. Teams that are able to withstand Carolina’s attack defensively, get a man behind their pinching defence, and win the puck for a quick counterattack typically find themselves with odd-man rushes. Carolina’s goaltending has improved a lot but this is something the Islanders can take advantage of.

The Islanders have a solid and heavy defence backstopped by reliable goaltending. While Ilya Sorokin has been a little off this season, he has consistently shown his All-Star ability the last few years. If he finds his form in this one, he could be New York’s X-factor. But Varlamov has been good of late and the Islanders can rely on him too. This is importantbecause that is huge for the Islanders withstanding the Hurricanes onslaught. After shutting the door, the Islanders can then spring one of their more offensively gifted players in Mathew Barzal, Bo Horvat, or Brock Nelson for a breakaway. Whether they like to play off the rush or not, they might have to. If they can do this successfully, they could break Carolina’s game.

Stay Out of the Box

Just as a key for Carolina is to take advantage of special teams, the Islanders too need to be mindful of the penalty kill. With Carolina’s effectiveness with the man advantage, the Islanders need to perform better on the kill than their regular season statistics showed. But one way to help this is to simply stay out of the box as much as possible. They need to play aggressive and physical, but also should avoid unnecessary penalties. While the regular season doesn’t determine the playoffs, the trends are important to consider. Fortunately for the Islanders, they were bottom three in penalty minutes during the regular season. It will go a long way for the Islanders to stay disciplined in this one.

Prediction and Best Bets

Anything can happen in the playoffs and nothing is guaranteed. But we see Carolina taking the victory in this series. The strength in their system at the hands of Rod Brind’Amour has been rock solid for some time. They are as deep as ever and are fully healthy unlike last year. Not to mention Andersen’s play of late, the top-line dominance and the special teams have all given this team major boosts. This doesn’t mean the Islanders will be a walk in the park though. Patrick Roy has the team rolling and fired up. And if they get an All-Star Sorokin, things might not be great for Carolina. However, at the end of the day, Carolina should walk away with the series win here.

Following the moneyline is preferred on this one  but there are some interesting prop bets to look at too. Guentzel has the best odds for the series point leader at +200. This is a safe bet based on his historical performance and chemistry with Aho and Jarvis. While Aho is another safe bet, take a hard look at Seth Jarvis who comes in with +1200 odds. He has all the skills and tools to put up points. But in addition, his chemistry with Aho and Guentzel has been amazing, his playing style fits Carolina’s system like a glove and is built for the playoffs, he can move up and down the lineup if needed, and he plays in all situations. Jarvis would be worth looking at for this prop bet.

Prediction: Carolina wins series 4-1

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Main Photo Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports


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