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Second Round Series Preview: Islanders vs Hurricanes

Teeing up the Islanders Second Round playoff series against the Hurricanes

by Cory Wright WrightsWay / NewYorkIslanders.com

The wait is over! 

Finally, after over a week of waiting, the New York Islanders have a second round opponent: the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Islanders and Hurricanes are meeting in the postseason for the first time. The Isles swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in four games to advance, while the Hurricanes needed seven games and two overtimes to beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. This is the first time since 2009 that the Hurricanes have advanced to the second round, while the Isles last advanced in 2016. 

Stay tuned to NewYorkIslanders.com and @NYIslanders for in-depth and up-to-date coverage of the entire series. First, a primer to get you ready for all things Isles-Canes.


THE SCHEDULE: 

Game 1   Fri.   April 26   7:00 p.m.   Barclays Center (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 2   Sun.   April 28   3:00 p.m.   Barclays Center (NBC, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 3   Wed.   May 1   7:00 p.m.   PNC Arena (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 4   Fri.   May 3   7:00 p.m.   PNC Arena (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 5*   Sun.   May 5   TBD   Barclays Center
Game 6*   Tues.   May 7   TBD   PNC Arena
Game 7*   Wed.   May 8   TBD   Barclays Center

*if necessary

The Islanders finished second in the Metro Division, while the Hurricanes finished in the first wild card, meaning the Isles will have home-ice advantage. Note that if the series does go seven games, the final two games of the series will be played back to back. 


Video: Bailey, Islanders top Hurricanes, 4-1


SEASON SERIES: 

Islanders: 3-1-0 | Hurricanes: 1-2-1

Oct. 4: Islanders 2 at Hurricanes 1 (OT)
Oct. 28: Islanders 2 at Hurricanes 1
Nov. 24: Islanders 4 vs Hurricanes 1
Jan. 8: Islanders 3 vs Hurricanes 4

The Islanders won the first three meetings, despite getting outshot 112-59. Overall, the Isles have won seven of their last 10 regular season games vs Carolina. 


Video: Islanders advance with sweep of Penguins


STORYLINES: 

ISLES BACK AFTER LONG LAYOFF:

By the time the puck drops on Friday night, the Islanders will have gone 10 days between games, last playing on April 16. They've used the time off to rest and heal up, as both Cal Clutterbuck and Scott Mayfield took a pair of maintenance days to address undisclosed injuries. They're hoping that the Hurricanes will be feeling the effects of a seven-game series, which ended with a lengthy double-OT win on Wednesday. 

At the same time, the Isles are looking to avoid any potential rust from a long layoff. They've practiced hard and kept the pace high during the past week, but it may take a period or two to get the legs back. Either way, the Isles are antsy and ready to play.  

HOME GAMES SHIFT TO BARCLAYS:

After playing the first round at NYCB Live (Nassau Coliseum), the second round - and any additional rounds - will be played at Barclays Center. 

The Islanders aren't worried about the change. They went 12-6-2 this season at Barclays and are 78-48-18 all-time in Brooklyn. 

As for the noise levels, the Isles are expecting fans to rock the Barc, bringing the bedlam into Brooklyn, just like they did during the 2016 playoffs. It's the people, not the building, that create the electric - and hostile - atmosphere. 

"Our fans are going to be there and they'll blow the roof off the place like they always do," Matt Martin said. "In terms of venue, it really doesn't matter, our fans will bring the noise and we just have to go out there and do our jobs and feed off the crowd."

ISLES DEFENSE LOOKS TO STAY STINGY:

The Islanders league-leading defense carried into the first round, as the Isles allowed six goals in four games. They bottled up the Pittsburgh Penguins, holding Sidney Crosby to one assist through four games. Expect to see the Isles shutdown pair of Ryan Pulock-Adam Pelech, as well as the Casey Cizikas line get matchups against the Hurricanes top players.

The Hurricanes scored 21 goals in their first-round series, averaging three per game. The Islanders held the Hurricanes to seven goals in four games during the regular season, including one goal in all three of the Isles wins. The Hurricanes led the league with 34.4 shots per game during the regular season, so they like to shoot the puck and push the pace. 


Video: NYI@PIT, Gm3: Eberle snipes wrister from tough angle 

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

JORDAN EBERLE: 

Jordan Eberle had a marvelous first round, leading the Islanders in goals (4) and points (6). The Islanders forward tripled his career playoff production in four games and has tied Ray Ferraro as the only Islander to score goals in his first four playoff games. He's rekindled his chemistry with Mathew Barzal - who had a team-high five assists - and is looking to build off a productive first round. 

THOMAS HICKEY: 

With Johnny Boychuk out with a lower-body injury, Thomas Hickey will draw into the Islanders lineup. Hickey was a healthy scratch throughout the first round, but was a regular on the Islanders blue line before missing two months with an upper-body injury in December. Trotz knows what he'll get from the seven-year pro, who appears likely to play with Nick Leddy, and that's a gamer who plays fearless. Hickey has also chipped in a few clutch goals during his time with the Isles, including an OT winner in 2016 vs Tampa.

SEBASTIAN AHO: 

Sebastian Aho led the Hurricanes in goals (30) and points (83) during the regular season, his first point-per-game campaign in three NHL seasons. Aho had five points (2G, 3A) in the first round, including a goal in Game 7, as well as a bevy of good looks. The Isles will need to key in on the crafty Finn. 

JACCOB SLAVIN/DOUGIE HAMILTON: 

The Hurricanes are getting some nice production from their blue line in Jaccob Slavin and Dougie Hamilton, who have combined for 15 points. Slavin quietly leads the team - and is tied for first in the league - with nine assists, while Hamilton had six points (3G, 3A) vs Washington. Slavin recorded three assists in Game 7. 



INJURIES: 

JOHNNY BOYCHUK: 

The Islanders defenseman suffered a lower-body injury after blocking a shot during Game 4 (April 16) of the Isles first-round series vs the Penguins. Boychuk was expected to miss three-to-four weeks with his ailment. Boychuk had one assist in four games in the first round.

ANDREI SVECHNIKOV: 

Carolina rookie Andrei Svechnikov suffered an upper-body injury in a fight with Alex Ovechkin in Game 3 against Washington. The 2018 second-overall pick had three points (2G, 1A) in three games prior to this injury and had 37 points (20G, 17A) in his rookie year. Svechnikov has been skating and was a consideration for Game 7. 

MICHAEL FERLAND:

Hurricanes forward Michael Ferland has missed four straight games with an upper-body injury and is reportedly not skating, according to NHL.com. Ferland had no points in three games in the Canes' first-round series. He had 40 points (17G, 23A) in 71 games in the regular season. 



TEAM LEADERS: 

Goals: Jordan Eberle (4), Warren Foegele (4)
Assists: Mathew Barzal (5), Jaccob Slavin (9)
Points: Jordan Eberle (6), Jaccob Slavin (9)


SPECIAL TEAMS MATCHUP: 

The Islanders power play went 2-for-13 (15.4%) in the first round. The penalty kill went 10-for-11 (90.9%) vs Pittsburgh. 

The Hurricanes power play went 3-for-25 (12%) in the first round. Carolina's penalty kill went 18-of 24 vs Washington. 


Video: Lehner Named Vezina Finalist: Robin Lehner

GOALTENDING MATCHUP: 

Robin Lehner was rock solid during the first round, stopping 130-of-136 shots against the Penguins. Lehner went 4-0-0 with a playoff-leading 1.47 goals-against average and a .956 save percentage. 

Lehner was in lockdown mode against the Penguins, as he allowed only one goal in each of final three games. The Islanders goalie was named a finalist for the Bill Masterton Trophy on Friday, the Vezina Trophy on Saturday and already has a William Jennings Trophy on his mantle that he shares with Thomas Greiss .

Interesting to note that Greiss started all four games against the Hurricanes this season, going 3-1-0 while stopping 129-of-136 shots in the process. Greiss had won six straight games against the Canes prior to losing on Jan. 8. 

Petr Mrazek will start in goal for the Hurricanes. Mrazek went 4-3-0 in the first round with a 2.54 GAA, a .899 SV% and a shutout. Mrazek was 23-14-3 during the season with a 2.39 GAA, a .914 SV% and four shutouts - his best season since 2015-16 with Detroit. The Hurricanes goalie won 11 of his final 13 games in the regular season. 

Mrazek went 0-1-1 against the Islanders this season. 

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