NHL Eastern Conference Finals preview and picks: Hurricanes To Fizzle Out Vs. Bruins In 6 Games

Our NHL expert has analyzed the lines for the NHL Eastern Confererence Final match up between Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes and picked out the best bets on the Series.

It’s an NHL Eastern Conference Finals that likely no one outside of Raleigh, N.C., and Boston could have reasonably expected (or hoped for) as the Carolina Hurricanes visit the Boston Bruins in Game 1 on Thursday night. On the SugarHouse sportsbook series line, the Bruins are -155 and Hurricanes +128.

Carolina was the top wild-card team in the Eastern Conference playoffs but also just three points from missing out entirely. The Hurricanes were significant underdogs in Round 1 against the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals and found themselves down 3-2 but won a thrilling Game 7 in D.C. in double overtime. Then, the Canes were underdogs again in the conference semifinals against the New York Islanders but stunningly swept. Carolina’s players will be well-rested as they finished off the Isles on May 3.

The only thing most casual hockey fans might know about the Hurricanes is their very entertaining “Storm Surge’’ celebrations. Those take place at home after wins and only after the opposing team has already left the ice. Carolina is in the conference finals for the first time since 2009 – which was the last time the franchise even made the playoffs.

Defenseman Jaccob Slavin leads Carolina with 11 points in the postseason (all assists). Bruins fans certainly remember another Hurricanes blueliner in Dougie Hamilton, who has seven playoff points. He played for the Bruins from 2012-15 before being traded to Calgary. The Flames sent him to Carolina this past offseason.

The Hurricanes used two goalies in the regular season in Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney. Mrazek took over as the starter in the playoffs, but he was hurt in Game 2 against the Islanders and McElhinney played the rest of the series and very well. He has a 1.56 GAA and .947 save percentage, stopping 71 of 75 shots. He was the oldest goalie in NHL history, at 35, to make his first career playoff start. Mrazek is healthy now so it remains to be seen which guy Coach Rod Brind’Amour starts in Game 1.

It’s not so much a shock that the Bruins are in the East Finals for the first time since 2013 because they finished tied for the second-most points in the NHL, but they were supposed to run into the record-setting Tampa Bay Lightning in the conference semifinals and lose. Except, the Lightning were stunningly swept in the first round by Columbus.

The Bruins eliminated the Blue Jackets in Game 6 on Monday night, 3-0. It was Tuukka Rask’s sixth career playoff shutout, tied for second-most in franchise history, and it was the Finn’s second career series-clinching shutout and first since Game 4 of the 2013 conference finals.

It’s the fifth all-time playoff meeting between these franchises – it used to be the Battle of New England when the Hurricanes were the Hartford Whalers. Two of the previous four were Bruins-Whalers. The Bruins lead 3-1 and no series has gone more than six games.

This regular season, Boston won two of three vs. Carolina. In the lone Hurricanes victory on Dec. 23 at home, they rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win 5-3. The most recent meeting, on March 5 in Boston, saw the Bruins win 4-3 in David Krejci’s OT winner. Rask only played in that game vs. Carolina. Mrazek played in one for Carolina and it was that comeback victory. McElhinney allowed four goals in his lone start vs. Boston, that OT loss. Scott Darling was in net the other matchup for the Hurricanes.

The favored exact SugarHouse sportsbook series result is Bruins in seven at +400. We like Boston in six at +450.

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