Just as we all predicted, the Carolina Hurricanes are going to play in the Eastern Conference Final.
The team that the man with the garish suits referred to as a “bunch of jerks” for their post-game celebrations brought out the brooms on the New York Islanders, finishing them off in four games with a 5-2 win in Game 4. That comment and ones like it seemed to accomplish nothing except to galvanize the Canes and their fans. A bunch of NASCAR fans sticking it to the unwritten rules of the hockey establishment, so to speak. Right now the Hurricanes look like they’d run through a brick wall for Coach Brind’Amour.
Before we discuss the game itself, here are a few interesting facts about the result of this series and the teams involved:
This is the very first four-game sweep in Carolina/Hartford franchise history.
Although the Hurricanes have only made it to the playoffs four times since 2002, they’ve made it to the Eastern Conference Final all four times. No point in making the playoffs if you're one and done, right?
The Islanders are the first team since the 1992-93 Buffalo Sabres to sweep one series, then get swept in the next series.
The teams finished the first period in a 1-1 tie after Mathew Barzal and Sebastian Aho exchanged early first-period power-play goals. But the Canes came out in full force in the second period, scoring three times before the midway point. Robin Lehner was pulled after the Hurricanes made it 3-1. Lehner allowed three goals on 11 shots, while Thomas Greiss allowed two goals in ten shots in relief.
Aho and Teuvo Teravainen led the way for the Hurricanes, scoring a goal and adding an assist each. That’s two consecutive two-point games for each.
Curtis McElhinney stopped 26 of 28 shots he faced in posting his third consecutive victory since taking over from the injured Petr Mrazek. The Canes wouldn’t start the Eastern Conference Final until the middle of next week at the earliest, which could be enough time for Mrazek to heal and be a possibility for Game 1 against Columbus or Boston. McElhinney has proven that he isn’t a significant dropoff from Mrazek, so the veteran Curtis Mac potentially starting Game 1 shouldn’t hurt the Canes’ chances that much.
With an assist in Game 4, Warren Foegele is now up to nine points (5g-4a) in 11 playoff games. That ties the Hurricanes/Whalers rookie record for postseason points by a rookie, set by Erik Cole in 2002 (Cole played 23 playoff games that season). Foegele must be