The Bruins are almost certainly locked in as the first wild card in the Eastern Conference, meaning they would draw the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. And despite the Canes’ improvements and success against the B’s this season, this may be the best time of the year to play them.
That’s because the Hurricanes currently have a bit of a situation in net. Starting goaltender Frederik Andersen is currently out with a lower body injury, and head coach Rod Brind’Amour told reporters Tuesday that he’s hoping for an update on Wednesday. According to ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski, Anderson “may miss the first few games” of the opening round of the playoffs. Sara Civian had a more promising report for Canes fans in The Athletic: “My sense after talking to multiple sources Monday is that both Andersen and [backup Antti] Raanta should be good to go for the playoffs. Nothing is official on Andersen yet, and it is subject to change, but things are looking optimistic.”
If Andersen has to miss the start of the playoffs, that would be significant for the Hurricanes regardless of their first-round opponent, but it would carry added importance for the Bruins. Andersen went 3-0 and pitched two shutouts against Boston this season, stopping 98 of 99 shots in all (.990). Overall, it’s been the most productive season of Andersen’s career; he has a career-best .922 save percentage and was on pace to set a new career-high in wins before his injury.
On top of Andersen, Raanta has also been dealing with an injury, but he was available to back up on Tuesday night, so he certainly looks ready for the playoffs. Raanta is 14-5-4 with a .913 save percentage and 2.43 goals against average this season.
The stat that stood out about the Bruins-Hurricanes matchup this season was goal differential. Carolina outscored Boston 16-1 in their three games. But the Hurricanes out-shot the Bruins in only one game, and overall, the B’s had the advantage in shot attempts (137-112), shots on goal (80-72), and high-danger scoring chances (28-26).