Boston Bruins: Can the Canes stop David Pastrnak on the powerplay?

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 27: Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) gains the blue line during a game between the Boston Bruins and the Carolina Hurricanes on February 27, 2018, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeated the Hurricanes 4-3 (OT). (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 27: Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) gains the blue line during a game between the Boston Bruins and the Carolina Hurricanes on February 27, 2018, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeated the Hurricanes 4-3 (OT). (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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Last year’s playoff match-up will seem like a distant memory when the Boston Bruins take on the Carolina Hurricanes for the first time this season on Tuesday night.

As a refresher (although you probably don’t need it), the Boston Bruins handled the Hurricanes in four games in the Conference Finals last season. Carolina was no match for a Bruins attack that nearly won it all.

This year, expect a closer encounter with the Hurricanes. The Boston Bruins look like a wagon so far, but Carolina fields a solid team on the ice as well.

The Hurricanes are a well-balanced team from top to bottom, as they are top ten in the league in goals for and goals against. Also, they scored six more goals than the league average and surrendered five fewer goals than the average.

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One thing that stands out with Carolina, however, is the penalty kill. The Hurricanes killed 81 of 96 penalties this season. This puts them at a 84.4% success rate, good enough for eighth in the NHL and right on par the Bruins.

As good as Carolina’s penalty killers have been, they face a tough test in front of them. The Bruins will show up with one of the league’s top power plays. As such, expect this matchup to dictate the outcome of Tuesday’s game.

Boston’s top power play unit features David Pastrnak, who leads the league in total goals with 25. He also is number one in the league with 12 power play goals. His production this year brings back memories of Cam Neely.

Can the Hurricanes contain Pastrnak on the power play? Carolina typically rolls Brett Pesce, Jacob Slavin, and Joel Edmundson out there on defense. All three are above-average players, but they certainly aren’t elite by any means.

Couple that with the fact that Pastrnak is on fire right now, and you have to expect that he’ll see his fair share of chances on the power play. Carolina’s penalty kill is good, but probably not good enough to thwart Pastrnak.

We also must keep in mind that Carolina goes to the penalty box more than most teams. Carolina’s opponents had 96 power plays so far; Boston’s opponents only had 84 opportunities in the same number of games.

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What this means is that Boston, especially as the home team, will likely get multiple power play opportunities on Tuesday. If Carolina contains Pastrnak and company, the Hurricanes can escape with a win. If Pastrnak runs wild, look for the Bruins to extend their win streak.