Islanders Roster Couldn’t Match Hurricanes’ Contending One


The Carolina Hurricanes edged out the New York Islanders within the first spherical in a hard-fought six-game sequence. The Islanders made the sequence shut with two wins however they have been no match for the Hurricanes who’re constructed to win the Stanley Cup.

Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders gamers shake fingers after Game 6 of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs (Photo by Josh Lavallee/NHLI through Getty Images)

The Hurricanes battled by way of accidents all through the sequence and by the point they received Game 6 in extra time, they have been with out a lot of their greatest skaters from the common season. Andrei Svechnikov was a top-line ahead however was out indefinitely with a knee injury and Teuvo Teravainen who was a dependable top-six ahead missed the ultimate 4 video games of the season with a hand damage. However, the sequence nonetheless confirmed a spot between the 2 groups, particularly in how they have been constructed.

Related: Hurricanes Storm Surge Past Isles on the Backs of Andersen & Aho

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The Islanders are constructed to achieve the playoffs and basic supervisor (GM) Lou Lamoriello has put collectively a staff that will likely be aggressive within the Eastern Conference. The Hurricanes in the meantime are constructed to win the Cup within the fashionable recreation. Specifically, GM Don Waddell has designed a roster that may win in a sooner, extra offensive-minded league with a potent offense but additionally with an elite protection that may win low-scoring video games.

Hurricanes vs Islanders Defensive Units

The Hurricanes and Islanders entered this sequence with two of the perfect defenses within the league with each groups permitting beneath 2.65 objectives per recreation. This sequence mirrored that as the 2 groups mixed for less than 31 objectives within the six-game sequence. The defenses stood out however the sequence additionally confirmed the hole between a very good and an elite unit. In the fashionable recreation, two-way defensemen are pivotal to success as groups want skaters that may create turnovers and switch them into immediate scoring possibilities for the offense. The Hurricanes have the skaters that may contribute to the offense whereas the Islanders don’t and the distinction between the 2 items was uncovered.

The Hurricanes’ defensive unit impacted the sequence in all three zones. Brent Burns arrange the offense on the frenzy together with his outlet passes and his playmaking from the purpose was a difference-maker within the first spherical. Burns had 5 assists within the sequence together with two in Game 1 that helped the staff win the game 2-1. Jaccob Slavin was a drive within the impartial zone and the slot, eliminating capturing lanes and stopping the Islanders from creating scoring possibilities once they had the puck. The remainder of the protection was not solely creating turnovers within the sequence however organising the offense with their puck-handling skill and outlet passes.

Brent Burns Carolina Hurricanes
Brent Burns, Carolina Hurricanes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Islanders have an ideal protection that stepped up on this sequence, particularly in Game 3 and Game 5 the place they allowed just one and two objectives respectively. Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech are two of the perfect within the league within the defensive zone and each skaters have been pivotal in eliminating the Hurricanes’ offense. Noah Dobson and Alexander Romanov are two younger defensemen which are coming off massive seasons and are solely persevering with to enhance. Scott Mayfield, who performed the ultimate yr of his contract, had an ideal sequence the place he made the case to stay with the staff for one more season, particularly together with his effort within the ultimate minutes of Game 5 to secure the 3-2 win.

For all of the reward the Islanders’ protection deserves, it couldn’t assist out the offense. For the vast majority of the sequence, the defensemen have been clearing the puck out of the defensive zone as a substitute of making an attempt outlet passes. Likewise, the skaters would oftentimes chip the puck into the offensive zone as a substitute of successfully beginning up the offense. Pulock, Pelech, and Mayfield all scored within the sequence however the protection was a non-factor from the purpose. The Islanders struggled offensively and wanted a skater to step up on the blue line and open up the offense however that by no means occurred. Ultimately, it made the distinction in a detailed sequence towards the Hurricanes, particularly within the one-goal video games, which 4 of the video games within the first spherical have been.

Versatility vs Niche Skillsets

The Islanders have a roster with each star energy and depth. At first look, it doesn’t have a evident weak point with a number of elite skaters within the prime six, dependable depth forwards, three robust defensive pairings, and arguably the perfect goaltender within the league in Ilya Sorokin. The underlying weak point is the shortage of versatility, particularly, too a lot of their prime gamers are one-trick ponies and it was their undoing within the first spherical.

Ilya Sorokin New York Islanders
Ilya Sorokin, New York Islanders (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Anders Lee is a finisher who can discover the again of the online however doesn’t open up the offense as a passer. Mathew Barzal stepped up as a scorer within the first spherical however is a playmaker who has been reluctant to shoot the puck in his profession. Zach Parise is an instinctive objective scorer who scored 21 objectives within the common season however isn’t a playmaker, distributing solely 13 assists. The Islanders have gamers that may complement one another’s ability units however when one participant struggles, your complete roster falls aside. Moreover, when they’re requested to adapt, they wrestle to take action as they’ll solely faucet into particular strengths.

The Hurricanes have stars that may adapt and win with their versatility. Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas, the staff’s two greatest forwards, proved all through the season that they’ll beat groups with their passing ability and elite playmaking skill but additionally discover the again of the online themselves. The two skaters mixed for 64 objectives and 74 assists this season and within the playoffs, their versatility helped the Hurricanes win the sequence. Aho specifically stepped up, main the highest line and regardless of taking part in alongside completely different skaters all through the sequence with the pile-up of accidents, he scored a team-high 4 objectives and three assists.

Sebastian Aho Carolina Hurricanes New York Islanders
Sebastian Aho #20 of the Carolina Hurricanes battles Sebastian Aho #25 of the New York Islanders throughout the third interval in Game One of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena (Photo by Josh Lavallee/NHLI through Getty Images)

Along with Aho and Necas, the Hurricanes’ roster displayed flexibility and flexibility to present them a bonus within the sequence. Stefan Noesen is a passer on the wing, distributing 23 assists this season however he stepped up as a scorer, discovering the again of the online twice within the sequence. Paul Stastny scored solely 9 objectives all season and is a defensive ahead. He stepped up within the offensive zone and scored three objectives, second-most on the staff within the first spherical, together with the Game 6 overtime-winning goal. In a sequence that required gamers to step up and tackle further roles, the Hurricanes had a roster stuffed with gamers that have been in a position to take action whereas the Islanders didn’t.

Hurricanes Can Win in a Multitude of Ways

measurement of whether or not a staff can win the Stanley Cup is that if they’ll win in a wide range of methods. Last yr, the Florida Panthers received the Presidents’ Trophy led by a high-powered offense that averaged 4.11 objectives per recreation. They have been an ideal staff however weren’t in a position to win the low-scoring, defensive, grind-it-out video games and it was their undoing as they have been swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning within the second spherical. Similarly, the Colorado Avalanche received the Cup final yr with a potent offense main the best way, averaging 3.76 objectives per recreation, however once they wanted to, they received the low-scoring video games as properly. Most notably, the Avalanche received Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final 2-1 in a defensive battle the place the sport slowed down.

The Islanders tried to regulate this season and change into a sooner, extra offensive-minded staff with new head coach Lane Lambert behind the bench. However, by the tip of the yr, they have been solely successful low-scoring video games, particularly, video games that grew to become goaltending duels, which gave them the benefit with Sorokin within the internet. When the video games sped up and have become high-scoring, the Islanders struggled. It was their undoing within the first spherical and value them Game 2 because the Hurricanes battled again and received 4-3 in extra time.

Lane Lambert New York Islanders
Lane Lambert, New York Islanders (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Hurricanes proved all through the season that they’ll win no matter how the sport is performed. They are led by their protection, which permits solely 2.56 objectives per recreation, however in addition they had an offense that would step up and take over, averaging 3.20 objectives per recreation. They used their adaptability to their benefit, particularly within the first spherical towards an Islanders staff that would solely win with protection. The Hurricanes received the defensive battles but additionally allowed their offense to take management of the sequence, rushing up video games and creating extra scoring possibilities.

Other Differences Between the Hurricanes & Islanders

What stood out within the first spherical is that the Hurricanes received the sequence with out an elite goaltender or perhaps a confirmed starter. They entered it with Antti Raanta because the starter however after he struggled in Game 5, they switched to Frederik Andersen who allowed them to clinch the series. In a league the place goaltending is important to win the Stanley Cup, the Hurricanes have confirmed they’ll thrive no matter who’s within the internet. Lamriello constructed the Islanders with goaltending being the precedence with Sorokin carrying the staff to the playoffs. Waddell in the meantime structured his staff to hold the goaltender with a defensive unit that would restrict high-danger possibilities and photographs on the web whereas the offense additionally steps up and controls each possession and the tempo of the sport.

Antti Raanta Carolina Hurricanes
Antti Raanta, Carolina Hurricanes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Hurricanes even have a prospect pool that permits them to not solely stay aggressive in the long term however proceed to win in a hard-fought sequence. The Islanders have one of many worst farm programs within the NHL and don’t have the gamers that may step up and change into regulars when accidents happen. The Hurricanes’ pipeline isn’t nice but it surely’s ok to offer them with reinforcements, particularly when the accidents pile up, as they did within the first spherical.

The Islanders are a number of items away from competing for the Stanley Cup, making this offseason an intriguing one for Lamoriello, who will attempt to put this staff excessive. The Hurricanes nevertheless are constructed to win the Cup and are actually one step nearer to doing in order they advance to the second spherical for the third yr in a row.


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